Natalie found comfort and gained confidence partly through the help of her doctor at Children’s. It all started when she met with her pediatrician, Michael Cunningham, MD, PhD, medical director of Children’s Craniofacial Center, who she has seen since age 4. Cunningham showed interest not only in her facial structure but also in her pre-k life.
Natalie found that every member of her care team treated her with the same respect while showing genuine interest in her life. As a young girl on a 14-year path to a life-changing surgery, it was just what she needed.
“Some people have great relationships with teachers or coaches— I have that with my doctors,” said Natalie. “They know me better than any of my instructors ever did and I can joke with them and talk about life. They really feel more like uncles than doctors.”
Natalie’s close relationship with her doctors transcended from the doctor’s office and into the operating room. Early on, Natalie’s parents handled most of her medical decisions. Then as she got older, she became more involved in these life-changing choices that would affect her future. By age 16, Natalie began preparing for a major surgery with her surgeon Richard Hopper, MD. Hopper told Natalie her options, told her what he recommended and then left the decision up to her.
“After a lot of thinking, I decided to take Dr. Hopper’s recommendation and do the surgery that took the longest, but had the best outcome for life after surgery,” said Natalie.
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