Acupuncture is now being used to help kids at Roswell Park – and the first patient was our friend, Stella

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Stella Usiak is literally one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Ever.

She’s a warrior, a fighter, a tough-cookie. And she’s also a little girl. She’s a 13-years-old (14 in June), but is wise way beyond her years.

Stella was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. She fought an incredible fight. Cancer was tough. Stella was tougher.

Sadly, Stella relapsed in 2014 and needed a bone marrow transplant.  She’s been fighting ever since.

So consider this – sweet Stella has been fighting cancer for the past six years. Nearly half of her life.

Stella has brought a great deal of attention to childhood cancer, remaining positive through it all. Sure, she’s worried, cried, yelled and screamed – but, overall – this kid has handled her illness with grace.

Not only has she worked to fight her illness, she’s taken time to help other children suffering. She’s been a spokesperson for the American Red Cross and the face of Roswell Park Cancer Institute. She also spends time making bracelets and other treasures to sell – donating the money to causes close to her heart.

I know. Amazing.

I met Stella years ago. 2009 maybe. Pre-cancer.  She was this adorable little girl with a spark in her eye. She hasn’t lost that spark and she’s as adorable as ever. I’ve stayed in touch with Stella and her incredible mom, Jen.

What they’re going through is unfair. But, they just get swimming. Keep going. Lately, things have been tough. Very tough. Stella has been suffering a great deal with bone and nerve pain. She recently spent 15 days at Roswell with an infection.

While she was there, she was the first pediatric patient to have Acupuncture. It was quite a milestone for the hospital and the patient.

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body. It is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. Jen said the pseudoscience seemed to help control her daughter’s pain, “She relaxed. Her pain went from a 6 to a 3 while and for a bit afterwards -they said it’s going to take some time to get the Chi flowing again where it’s been stopped with everything.”

 

 

Stella’s been taking very strong painkillers, including Methadone and Morphine. Jen is concerned about addiction and other issues, so she loved the thought of something all natural – like Acupuncture

So far, Stella has only had a few treatments, but she plans to continue getting them. Each time focusing on a different organ, or part of the body.

Stella was released from Roswell to continue treatment at home.

The acupuncture is a program supported by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. Dr. Kara Kelly, the Waldemar J. Kaminski Endowed Chair of Pediatrics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute tells me this is a good thing for these young patients,  “We’re incredibly excited to bring these new supportive care options to our pediatric and young adult patients and survivors, based on a successful and evidence-based program. Acupuncture can help to ease and address a lot of what they’re going through, from the symptoms of their disease to treatment side effects to the anxiety they’re understandably feeling. We hope this will be one more way we can give our patients better quality of life and maybe even improve overall outcomes.”

That’s certainly the hope for this little girl from North Tonawanda who loves school, arts and crafts – and her idol, Taylor Swift.

Stella was able to meet Taylor in Miami after winning a contest through Scholastic Books. It was an incredible moment for Stella, who has used music to help get through painful treatments, chemotherapy, and other difficult times.

Stella is incredibly focused on getting better and getting back to life with her parents and her little brother, Nigel – who is also amazing. Pediatric cancer does not just impact the patient, but the entire family – especially siblings.

Stella has an entire community praying for her to get better very soon.

You can learn more about Stella’s fight with cancer by checking out her FACEBOOK PAGE.  She LOVES getting new friends, new likes and any messages of encouragement are always welcome!

Mary Friona

Mary Friona

Editor-In-Chief at Totally Buffalo
Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years -seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.
Mary Friona

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Mary Friona

Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years - seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.