John Kelly's Washington

John Kelly: Children's Hospital cancer patient profile

Anthony "Pup" Thomas is one of the staff members who took part in Brian Wathen's treatment. (John Kelly/the Washington Post)
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By John Kelly
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On the day he turned 8, Brian Wathen decided to wear his Tom Brady (No. 12) New England Patriots jersey.

On the day he turned 8, Brian's mother, Jill Wathen, didn't make him sit in a booster seat on their 90-minute drive from La Plata to Washington.

On the day he turned 8, Brian let me spend the morning with him.

"This is where I get my vitals," he said as he slid into a chair in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Hospital.

"Any pain or allergies?" asked Julia Dorsey, a patient care tech.

"Omnicef," Brian answered.


"It's a family of antibiotics," Brian explained to me.

"This is my identification bracelet," he said, fingering a white plastic hospital bracelet. "This is my allergy bracelet," he said fingering a red one. "This is a blood pressure cuff. That thing she put in my mouth is a thermometer."

His vitals measured, Brian walked into an examination room and climbed atop the bed there. Nurse Anthony "Pup" Thomas walked into the room. "What size?" Pup asked. "One inch or three-quarter inch?"

"One inch," said Brian, describing the size of the needle Pup needs to access his port, the device under the skin on his chest that allows direct access to his bloodstream.

"This is called numbing cream," Brian said, pointing to a dab under a clear adhesive dressing on his chest. His tiny fingers carefully worked the edge of the bandage. I asked Brian whether he fell into the pull-a-bandage-off-fast camp or the pull-a-bandage-off-slow camp.

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