Grit: (n): determination and courage; strength of character.
Today, Niko Macias is in remission. Through a year when most people were focused on COVID-19, Niko’s family was preoccupied with another difficult disease. In August 2019, Niko was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer that was causing pain in his hip joint. The journey that followed involved painful surgery, difficult chemotherapy treatments and months relearning how to walk. Through it all, Niko exhibited grit and optimism.
“Regardless of what Niko was going through, he was always sunshine when I walked through that door.” Coastal Kids nurse Kimberly Jimenez Hell was unaccustomed to being greeted with such enthusiasm by her pediatric patients. “Kids are usually a bit scared to see their nurse, but not Niko, he was always happy to see me.”
Niko’s exuberance spilled over into his physical therapy too. When Coastal Kids physical therapist Trish Krall first met Niko, he was walking less than ten feet with the support of a walker. Nine months later he was doing karate, having dance parties with his brother Andres and riding his bike around the neighborhood.
Trish was impressed by his fun approach to therapy, “Niko was always excited to see what games or activities we were going to play, his favorite was Silly Walks -- he saw it as a game, but we were training strength, endurance and balance.”
Nurse Kim stayed connected to Niko throughout his treatment as well, providing port blood draws and chemotherapy injections that kept him safe and healthy at home. In fact, for Niko’s family the stay-at-home was a blessing in disguise. The opportunity to work and learn from home provided the time and space they needed to help their young son to recover his health and regain strength and mobility under the guidance of Coastal Kids Home Care.
According to Niko’s mom, “Having a resource like Coastal Kids was a life-saver. Knowing we could request lab orders and certain treatments at home was really helpful. The services provided by Coastal Kids relieved the stress of a difficult time. Kim and Trish always listened to Niko and made him feel important and they made Andres feel special too. Niko is now a cancer survivor and Coastal Kids was a big part of helping him to get there.” Although Kim and Trish miss seeing Niko weekly, they both are excited to see what the future holds for this determined optimist.
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