Perseverance of a Champion

Natalie Hammond is a Champion. The 16-year-old from Burford recently travelled to Orlando representing McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation at Children’s Hospitals Week. This celebration highlighted the importance of donor support to enabling the specialized care of pediatric patients.

Natalie wearing a yellow Walmart vest standing next to a board with her picture and story.

Natalie Hammond, the 2019 Children’s Miracle Network Champion representing McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation

“Something was wrong”

Natalie’s medical journey began during one of her dance classes, when she started to feel pain throughout her body that made it difficult for her to move. Natalie had never experienced anything like this before in her years as a competitive dancer.

“The pain became so bad that it was affecting my ability to do simple, everyday things like getting dressed,” recalls Natalie. “I couldn’t even bend over to put on my socks.”

A rare diagnosis

An MRI at the hospital in Woodstock revealed that the pain was caused by tumours, a rare form known as myxopapillary ependymomas, that were developing in her spinal column. They were putting pressure on nerves, which was causing the pain.

The following day, her pain was so severe that she was taken to the Emergency Department at McMaster Children’s Hospital. After additional scans were conducted, Natalie was placed under the care of the neurosurgical team.

Spinal surgery

“She underwent an eight-hour surgery to remove the tumours,” explains her mother, Tiffany. “It was difficult to watch her go through so much, but we knew she was in good hands. Luckily they were able to remove all of the growths.”

Natalie was discharged and returned home after six days at the Hospital. As her pain began to subside, she found herself able to resume most daily activities.

“The hardest part of the journey has been feeling left out because I couldn’t dance,” she says. “I hope to start dancing again soon because it’s my passion, and I look forward to having a normal life with my friends again.”

Moving into the future

Although Natalie still experiences some pain, her condition is improving.

“She will be monitored for the rest of her life with routine MRIs because this type of tumour has a high chance of reoccurrence,” says Tiffany. “I know that she will continue to receive outstanding care from the amazing teams at McMaster Children’s Hospital. We are forever grateful for all that they’ve done for us.”

Children’s Hospitals Week Canada was made possible by the generosity of Presenting Sponsor Walmart, Official Airline Sponsor Air Canada Foundation and Official Sponsor The Brick. As a Champion, Natalie is proud to be a patient ambassador who represents the world-class health care services available at McMaster Children’s Hospital.