July 14, 2014 – Emily Brown

Our Riley Kid of the Week for this week is Emily Brown! Emily was treated at Riley when she was growing up and now she is fostering her own child! Emily graduated from IUPUI with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work. She is currently working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana. Emily tells her own Riley story below.

I was a pretty healthy kid up until my early teens. Shortly before my 14th birthday I noticed my ankles were slightly swollen. Soon, they were extremely swollen and my eyes began to swell as well. I went to my family doctor who ran lab work, which indicated that my kidneys were not working correctly and he sent my family and I straight to Riley.

We had my first appointment with the nephrology team at Riley and they scheduled a kidney biopsy, which revealed I had an autoimmune kidney disease. I was started on high dose steroids but unfortunately, my disease was very difficult treat and I had to have several months of chemotherapy as well and was on immunosuppressant medications for years. The medications I took had many side effects and I developed glaucoma, diabetes, and nerve and muscle damage. I was implanted with a spinal cord stimulator, which is a battery in my lower back connected to electrodes that go inside my spine. The battery sends electrical current along my spinal cord to help ‘turn off’ the nerve pain to help manage chronic pain caused by chemotherapy.

I missed an entire year of school during my treatment. I had many hospitalizations at Riley throughout this time. My doctor at Riley was incredible and despite having ongoing complications of my illness and its treatment, I have been in remission from my illness for several years and have gone on to have an incredible life and do things I never thought would be possible such as graduate from college, travel internationally, and become a foster parent. I am forever grateful for the care I received and will always be a ‘Riley kid’ first and foremost.

Emily has stayed involved with PUDM and Riley long after she received her treatment there and we are so glad that she is one of our Riley families! We look forward to seeing her at the marathon in November and hopefully before that!