5-year-old cel­e­brates a late birth­day, can­cer-free

Girl suf­fered from rare form of the dis­ease, par­ents ap­pre­cia­tive of lo­cal doc­tor’s care

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By ANDREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion and six months of chemo­ther­apy, 5-year-old Joelle Jones was all smiles as she ran around Chuck E. Cheese’s with her friends and sib­lings for a be­lated birth­day party on Satur­day, cour­tesy of her lo­cal pe­di­atric provider that sup­ported her along the way.

Joelle’s life was for­ever changed in April when she was di­ag­nosed with a rare eye can­cer, retinoblas­toma, un­der­go­ing op­tic surgery soon af­ter to stop the dis­ease from spread­ing, fol­lowed by sever- al cy­cles of chemo­ther­apy.

Her par­ents, Charles and

Sithd’dare, said it was Dr. Ade­teju Ogun­rinde at Chil­dren’s Health­care Cen­ter who first warned them of the po­ten­tial dan­ger, ad­vis­ing them to seek a spe­cial­ist, and then went the ex­tra mile to pro­vide a per­sonal lev- el of care, in­clud­ing the party to cel­e­brate the end of her long jour­ney.

“We were dev­a­s­tat- ed. This was a shock to us,” said Charles as he re­flected on when they first learned of her con­di­tion. “We went back and forth to Philadel­phia for a se­ries of months to make sure she got the best care [at Chil- dren’s Hos­pi­tal of Phil- adel­phia]. We did the op­er­a­tion at Wills Eye In­sti­tute, and then we fol­lowed up there for the chemo­ther­apy for six months.”

“Of course, her pe­dia- tri­cian needed to know ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on with her,” Sithd’dare added, “and we needed some care along the way, lo­cally, that would con­tinue to help us mon­i­tor her. Some­where where she could go and get her labs ev­ery week, be­cause dur­ing chemo­ther­apy they have to check the labs once a week and make sure her num­bers are right.”

The par­ents, who live in Ac­co­keek, also com- mended staff mem­bers for be­ing so child-friendly and con­ve­nient with their sched­ule.

“They were very car- ing about Joelle, and we ap­pre­ci­ated that,” Charles said of Ogun­rinde’s Wal­dorf prac­tice. “They went the ex­tra mile to make sure she was taken care of. That was awe­some.”

Joelle, they said, has been an in­spi­ra­tion to them these past months, en­dur­ing the count­less tests and pro­ce­dures with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and an in­fec­tious smile.

“This event to­day, they to­tally took care of it,” Charles said. “They in­vited us, we brought along some fam­ily, and just the em­pa­thetic care and con­cern and love that she’s shown us. She didn’t have to do this. This is re­ally a spe­cial thing for her to do this for us.”

Ogun­rinde, or “Dr. O,” felt com­pelled to throw the party know­ing that the ever ju­bi­lant Joelle, who cus­tom­ar­ily hugs her af­ter each ap­point- ment, had been in be­tween chemo­ther­apy cy­cles when she turned five in July.

“It’s a long jour­ney for the par­ents,” she said. “It seems like yes­ter­day when the whole thing started. When you get a bad di­ag­no­sis, as any par­ent, you feel over­whelmed and it feels like the end of the world. But we were there with them.”

Joelle’s doc­tors are con­fi­dent af­ter six months of chemo­ther­apy that the pro­ce­dure has elim­i­nated all can­cer­ous cells, her par­ents said, but they are con­tin­u­ing to travel to Philadel­phia to fol­low up ev­ery three to four months.

“When the end came, and I got the let­ter, the first thing I wanted to do is give her a hug,” Ogun­rinde said. “She’s so lovely. She is cute and she is al­ways happy. She’s still a lit­tle weak now, but you can see the way she smiles that ev­ery­thing comes out.”

STAFF PHOTO BY ANDREW RICHARD­SON

Dr. Ade­teju Ogun­rinde with her long­time pa­tient Joelle Jones, 5, who re­cently com­pleted her last round of chemo­ther­apy. The pe­di­a­tri­cian and her staff at Chil­dren’s Heath­care Cen­ter in Wal­dorf threw her a be­lated birth­day party at Chuck E. Cheese’s to cel­e­brate.

Joelle and her mother, Sithd’dare, grab for tick­ets in­side the Chuck E. Cheese ticket blaster.

STAFF PHOTOS BY ANDREW RICHARD­SON

Sithd’dare Jones and her daugh­ter, Joelle, take self­ies at the photo booth at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Dr. Ade­teju Ogun­rinde, mid­dle, and two of her physi­cian as­sis­tants, Michelle Jack­son, left, and Jor­dan Beb­ber, right, watch as Joelle plays an ar­cade game.

Joelle Jones, 5, of Ac­co­keek cel­e­brates a be­lated birth­day party at Chuck E. Cheese’s on Satur­day af­ter com­plet­ing her last round of chemo­ther­apy.

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