7-year-old cancer ‘champion’ honored

By Gary Hermann

Sydney Dover walked into UK Children’s Hospital with her family and hugged Dr. John D’Orazio, the first physician to treat her in her long battle to beat cancer.

Sydney is 7 years old and has already overcome what her mother told her would be the biggest battle she would ever face.

Sydney was honored on Friday as the 2012 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Kentucky Champion.

“Today I get the butterflies for a good reason,” said Mellissa Dover, Sydney’s mother. “It is nice to see her being honored for her big battle.”

Sydney, a second grader, presented a chain of paperdolls decorated by Kentucky school children to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Notable in the chain of paperdolls was a basketball player wearing a No. 20 Kentucky jersey.

At age 2, Sydney was diagnosed with a type of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. She underwent six weeks of radiation and 42 weeks of chemotherapy.

During treatment, she contracted two serious blood infections requiring isolation, according a news release.

“I’m just thankful she is my daughter and doing so well. It’s been a whirlwind,” Robert Dover, Sydney’s father, said. “She is a special little girl, and I am glad to call her my daughter.”

“There are still some issues from her treatment, but you can see a success story,” D’Orazio, a UK pediatric hematologist/oncologist, said. “This is why we do it.”

A party was held for Sydney following the presentation of the paperdolls, which her mother said was the first time Sydney got to go to the hospital without getting a “pokey.”

“I get a little nervous sometimes,” Sydney said. “It’s a little neat having the party.”

The Children’s Miracle Network program identifies a child with a remarkable medical story from each state. These Champions serve as ambassadors for the 17 million

children treated at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals annually, according to a news release.

D’Orazio said having the support of the community makes a big difference and “really eases the road for these kids.”

“This is great for the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Team,” D’Orazio said. “It is great to have the community behind us. Because of events like DanceBlue, we can give these kids so much extra.”

D’Orazio said that there is nothing better than seeing a former patient doing so well.

The Champions and their families will travel to Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C., for one week in September to meet with delegates and media to highlight the vital work taking place at children’s hospitals.

“The Children’s Miracle Network is extremely important to the work of Children’s Hospital,” Dr. Carmel Wallace, chair of the UK Department of Pediatrics, said.

“They help us provide services we couldn’t in our budget.”

Children’s Miracle Network has donated more than $800,000 to UK Children’s Hospital, Wallace said.

“It makes the effort a lot of people put in worthwhile,” Wallace said. “To see a kid that was so sick hug and play with you, like with Dr. D’Orazio, brings tears to your eyes.”