From a Grateful Mom: Comfort in the Midst of COVID-19

By Brittney Franklin

Above: Aspen Franklin (far right) and her siblings Jovie, Emory and Sutton.

Below: Brittney Franklin and her daughter, Aspen, celebrate a milestone.

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, a spotlight has been placed on healthcare workers, shining a light onto the work they do every day.

Taking care of patients, running a hospital, managing day-to-day operations, and reassuring family members are not easy tasks. Everyone—environmental services, maintenance, administrative staff, clinical personnel, research teams, volunteers, donors, and everyone in between—is vital to the function and success of each patient’s journey. It takes more than a village. I am a mom to four young children, aged 4 to 8, a registered nurse, and an advocate for rare diseases. For the last seven years, my husband and I have battled the healthcare system in hopes of giving our oldest daughter, Aspen, the best possible chance at life.

Aspen was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) at the age of 1 and promptly started treatment with chemotherapy and steroids. Days after her first relapse, we hopped on a plane and flew to Cincinnati for evaluation by the Cincinnati Children’s Bone Marrow Transplantation team. We knew from that very first appointment we had found our new “home.” Fast forward six years, various treatments, and an unwavering relationship built with her care team, we finally felt safe moving to another state. When COVID-19 became a pandemic, that safety net quickly ripped open, and I found myself staying awake at night with anxiety at being eight hours from our home, from our care team. With the new ability to work remotely, my husband and I made the rapid decision to temporarily move back to Cincinnati to be near the people we trust most to care for our daughter. Within four days, we had packed our possessions into a storage building, purchased an RV, and found ourselves within 30 minutes of the hospital. The relief I felt wash over me as we passed the Ohio border was indescribable. While I know this may sound rash for some, we know we made the right decision. Infections are potentially very serious for our child, and we have seen the difference in the level of care among institutions. Out of the many health systems we have been in, across six states, Cincinnati Children’s is second to none. The level of care is paramount, and the staff has become our family. There is no other place I can imagine running to in the face of a pandemic. Each and every person at Cincinnati Children’s is responsible for this feeling of love and security. We wish we could personally thank each and every one of you for all that you do, every day. You are all the backbone of the hospital that so many families like ours call home, and there will never be enough ways to show our appreciation. Thank you for putting your heart into your work daily. Thank you for showing up in our time of need, over and over again. Thank you for always lending a hand or a shoulder to cry on or a smile in a time of defeat. Thank you for not judging our pajamas and messy hair on our rough days. Thank you for listening to our rants and fears in our physical therapy sessions with our kids. Thank you for being our friends when we need it most. Thank you for being part of our family from the time we walk in the door. We see you, we appreciate you, and we love you.

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