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Overcoming barriers: Patient with MS faces challenges and thrives

As a full-time social worker, Nicky Lewis has always placed the interests of others well before her own, grateful for the opportunity to regularly improve her patients’ lives. Ironically, when diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) this past April, she suddenly became a patient herself. (MS is an autoimmune disease in which the myelin sheaths that…
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Cancer survivor plays wheelchair tennis against able-bodied competitors

by Kate Snider Jess Sporte, 23, lost her leg to cancer when she was just 4 months old. Jess uses crutches for short distances and a wheelchair for longer distances. She received outpatient care from the Center for Limb Differences at Mary Free Bed until she was 21 years old. Growing up, Jess watched from the sidelines as…
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Teen recovers at Mary Free Bed after brain tumor

by Kate Snider Fifteen-year-old Brenden Haas had been vomiting regularly for 7 months when he collapsed at his home. At the beginning of his illness, Brenden’s stomach didn’t feel right and he began vomiting in the morning. When it became apparent that his vomiting wasn’t because of the flu, his parents took him to a…
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Struck by drunk driver, amputee prepares for Paralympics

by Kate Snider Melanie Johnson was riding her motorcycle to her nephew’s football game in September 2004 when she was struck by a drunk driver. The life-changing accident happened just 5 miles from home. “I knew it was really bad when I heard the helicopter,” Melanie said. “I remember thinking, if they had to call…
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Patient fights his way back after brain injury from ATV accident

“It was getting late and I started to worry,” says his wife, Tammy. “So I went to look for him.” A truck driver, Tom had parked his semi across the road by a neighbor’s house. “I figured he was there,” says Tammy. “Our neighbor saw that I was upset, and he and his dog came…
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Spinal cord injury patient embraces life

by Diane Teall Battle Creek native Mitchell Chapman, 17, embraces life, be it good or bad. He’s experienced his share of both this year. Mitch transferred to Mary Free Bed from Borgess this past fall after a severe car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. He had lost control of his car and…
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Cerebral palsy patient shares MFB experience

In December 2008, Mary underwent major surgery at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. During the eight-and-a-half hour operation, six of the bones in Mary’s legs were broken so that they could be repositioned using steel plates, releasing muscles and tendons. After spending four days in the hospital, Mary was sent home with her legs in casts….
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Stroke patient Sandra Boyce tells her story

The 51-year-old widow from Grand Rapids suffers from diabetes, so she thought that might be the problem. After she rested a bit, her arm went numb and her leg was tingling. “I called my sister and said that something was wrong, and I needed to go to the hospital,” Sandra recalls. Her sister brought her…
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