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Caitlyn, 12

Fredericksburg | Services: Hematology/Oncology

Managing Challenges with Grace

When she was just eight weeks old, Caitlyn Brown was diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare bone marrow failure disorder that results in a shortage of red blood cells. For the last 12 years, Caitlyn and her family have been traveling from their Fredericksburg home for regular visits to the ASK Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU for treatment.

“The clinic is incredible,” Caitlyn’s mom Debbie says. “It has been our home away from home for the last 12 years. The staff members treat Caitlyn like family and have taken the time to really get to know her.”

During clinic visits every few weeks, Caitlyn receives blood transfusion therapy to replenish her red blood cells and intravenous immunoglobulin therapy to address an immune system deficiency. She might have a bone marrow transplant to cure her disease at some point in the future, but the family currently plans to continue managing her condition with the existing therapies due to potential risks with a transplant.

Through everything, Caitlyn manages her condition and hospital treatments with the same sense of grace she shows in her ballet performances. Her family and friends admire her determination to focus on other things, like graduating from Battlefield Elementary this spring, writing short stories, and even organizing blood drives to help others. “She is so brave,” Debbie adds. “Whatever we have to do for her care, she doesn’t fear it. She just packs her backpack and we go.”

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