Nicole's Miraculous Recovery

Driven Teen Battles Back from Cancer and Strokes

athlete with two women and lacrosse stick

Nicole began her junior year at Greenwich High School with much to look forward to. An honors student and tri-varsity athlete, the vivacious teen was looking forward to learning to drive and prepping for college. A diagnosis of leukemia was not in the plans. Nonetheless, when she received the news on September 10th, her mother says the tears she shed in the doctor's office would be the last ones she would cry over her diagnosis.
Nicole bravely began an aggressive round of chemotherapy within the week, and 16 days later developed sepsis and nearly lost her life. While in a medically induced coma, the teen suffered two strokes on the right and left hemispheres of her brain, affecting her motor skills and speech.

Once stabilized, Nicole was transferred to Blythedale's Traumatic Brain Injury Unit in late October for intensive rehabilitation and medical management of her complex condition. Upon arrival, Nicole was extremely weak and unable to move any of her extremities, nor hold up her head meaning she couldn't do anything independently. She also required a nasogastric tube for feeding.

An extremely motivated Nicole would not be down for long. Working tirelessly with her physiatrist and therapists, Nicole quickly gained enough strength to sit up, stand, and ultimately begin walking again. By December she was playing lacrosse and field hockey with her physical and occupational therapists in Blythedale's Therapy Village. According to her enthusiastic medical team, her progress is unprecedented. 

What was initially projected to be a five or six-month inpatient stay quickly turned to discussion surrounding discharge at the two-month mark. Her extremely supportive family, and extended network of friends, helped Nicole celebrate Christmas at Blythedale and ring in a promising New Year. On January 3rd, and with her cancer in remission, Nicole was well enough to return home. She returned to Blythedale for a few weeks for follow-up physical and speech therapy, and completed completed chemotherapy later that year. Nicole went on to not only graduate on time, with her classmates at Greenwich High School, but is now attending Dartmouth College. 

This sunny, optimistic teen touched many lives with her positive outlook while at Blythedale, and while staff and patients alike miss her dearly, all celebrate her miraculous recovery.

The video below was filmed during Nicole's recovery, when the brave teen graciously agreed to share her inspirational story at our Spring Gala.