TJ’s Story

TJ’s summer break was interrupted when he started having seizures. When the new school year began at Laura S. Ward Elementary in Humboldt Park, the seventh grader lived in fear that a seizure could strike at any moment. This anxiety caused him to give up the sports he loved, like basketball. Seeking comfort and a safe place, he frequently wandered in to Erie Westside Health Center, one of Erie Family Health Centers’ five Chicago Public School-based locations.

The nursing staff at Erie was concerned about TJ. They consulted neurologists and helped his parents schedule MRIs and other necessary testing. Test results revealed the source of TJ’s seizures: a 2.5 centimeter brain tumor.

This is devastating news for any family to face. Thankfully, TJ’s tumor was benign, and surgery successfully removed it. TJ was able to return to the seventh grade two months later.

Erie’s doctors were just down the hall from TJ’s classroom when he needed follow-up care. When the fear of being hit in the head near his incision site gave TJ anxiety, Erie’s behavioral health therapist was steps away from the gym and ready to assist with coping strategies. Today TJ is now free of seizures, full of confidence and back on the basketball court.

Like Erie Westside at Ward Elementary, each of Erie’s 13 health centers is located in an area that lacks medical resources for those in financial need. Before they found Erie, our patients faced barriers to health care like poverty, lack of insurance, geographic inaccessibility, inflexible hours, and language differences.  Before they found Erie, many of our patients worried they had nowhere to go.

Your contribution ensures that Erie’s services will remain accessible and affordable for anyone who needs them. This holiday season, give kids like TJ the gift of a safe place, peace of mind, and hope for a healthier future.