Sammy’s Story: Growing Up Stronger Thanks to Innovative Treatment


When Sammy arrived at Children's National he was only 20 months old. The last six months had been a nightmare of vomiting, weight loss, and vision and movement problems. The Neurology and Neurosurgery team diagnosed Sammy with a hypothalamic tumor—a growth that had severely pressed upon his optic nerve and caused spinal fluid to collect around his brain. His condition was so severe that an attempted biopsy of the tumor triggered severe bleeding. He went into a coma.

Dr. Roger Packer and his neuro-oncology team—in concert with the intensive care team—began immediate treatment, employing a chemotherapy protocol he developed thirty years ago and has refined at Children's National. Sammy rose to the challenge; his strength and resilience matched the level of commitment provided by his care team. As his health improved, he loved to dance for his nurses, even throughout his intensive treatment regimen.

"I'm not sure I'll ever be able to thank Children's National enough," says his mom, Jennifer. "They saved Sammy's life."

Now, less than two years after his treatment began, Sammy is an active, happy three year-old. He has full cognitive function, excellent vision and continually improving mobility. The tumor has reduced in size by eighty percent and Sammy is in remission.

And he still loves to dance.