By Andrew McIlree
Christina Ledin is more than a talented young professional establishing her career. The 26- year-old woman has already discovered her capacity to live with purpose and to help others through one of her earliest childhood experiences – as a cancer survivor at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
Ledin recalls getting repeatedly sick to her stomach just before her second birthday. Her skin turned yellow, and she wouldn’t eat. Her pediatrician sent her to Children’s, where doctors discovered a Wilms’ tumor, the size of a grapefruit, on her left kidney. Treatment began immediately.
In her memory, the healing journey at Children’s wasn’t as scary as it could have been, thanks to the skills and personalities of the Cancer and Blood Disorders team, Ledin said, noting that Dr. Bruce Bostrom had a Cookie Monster doll in his office that she enjoyed. Her parents, too, appreciated the dedication of her doctors and nurses.
“My dad would see Dr. Margaret Heisel Kurth in my room, going over paperwork at 11:30 at night,” Ledin said. “And then he would see her in that same spot in the early morning. The team never stopped taking care of their patients.”
With the help of surgery and chemotherapy, her tumor was gone, Ledin said. She’s been in remission ever since. She’s proud and grateful for surviving such an ordeal at an early age, and she was able to live a normal childhood in Plymouth, Minn. Ledin later went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in health care management at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.
Now her life has come full circle.
“Where I wanted to work my whole life was at Children’s,” she said. “But I never thought I’d be lucky enough to work for Children’s Foundation right out of college.”
Ledin, already employed at her dream job, went a giant leap further by making an estate gift to Children’s in early 2012. The Richard, Pamela, Katherine, and Christina Ledin Family Endowment will support the Cancer and Blood Disorders program at Children’s by providing it money and resources for years to come.
“Children’s saved my life, and we as a patient family were helped in different ways,” she said. “That level of care is due to people’s generosity, and I don’t have to wait until I’m older to think about making a difference for other families.”
As Ledin credits her healing journey at Children’s for playing a strong role in the formation of her life’s passions and values, the young woman often finds herself reflecting on moments as a child spent with her Cancer and Blood Disorders care team.
“The one thing I miss the most about my Dr. Heisel Kurth checkup visits,” she said, “is her cleaning my ears.”