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Natalie Pawelski
10/02/99 – 06/30/03
3 years old at diagnosis
Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, NY, Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, Golisano Children’s Hospital and Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY

Natalie was unwell for several weeks and misdiagnosed as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) or probable viral infection as she saw her doctor several times in December 2002 and January 2003.  Natalie was finally diagnosed at the Women and Children’s Hospital E.R. on 2/2/03.  She had disease in her bone marrow, hips, spine, shoulder and knee bones; she had cancer cell-filled fluid around her lungs and heart – along with the 10cm tumor in her abdomen.  She was diagnosed with stage IV Neuroblastoma fully metastasized on 2/2 at 3 years and 4 months old. She had a collapsed lung and was put on a ventilator on 2/6, and was permanently paralyzed by 2/8 of 2003.  She was given Sloan-Kettering’s induction chemo (at that time) at our home hospital, with plans on taking her there for treatment eventually, because she was too sick to airlift and transport.

Natalie was treated with a variety of different treatments but unfortunately nothing worked and she became an angel just 5 short months after diagnosis at 3 years 9 months old.

Natalie loved anything purple, dancing class, her teddy bear, (she would say ‘tebby bear’) yellow blankie, and simply being together with her immediate and extended family.  Natalie was shy, quiet, observant, and content – a child who was pure joy.  She was very happy with what she had and was very difficult to shop for.  As her 2nd birthday approached, she wanted nothing at all.  Grandparents and parents insisted that we needed to buy her something, so we took her to Toys ‘R’ Us.  Still, nothing appealed to her.  Finally she got really excited as she saw something across an aisle.  When we asked what it was, she told us that she saw something she had at home that she loved very much.  Natalie was so happy to see it at the store so that other kids might have it, too, and share her joy.  Can you imagine, a child who doesn’t want anything for her birthday?