Four-year old LeAnn Paternostro of South Williamsport was having bad headaches for several weeks. Her mother, Cindy, would give her medication on the advice of LeAnn's pediatrician and that helped at first. However, soon the headaches would just not go away.
In April 2002, the family was having Easter dinner when LeAnn developed a severe headache and became violently ill so Cindy called the pediatrician. The doctor prescribed a medication to try to stop LeAnn's vomiting, but nothing would control it. Cindy took LeAnn to the pediatrician and on to the emergency room the next day and little did the family know their lives were about to change forever.
A CT scan revealed a brain tumor the size of an adult's fist in LeAnn's cerebellum.
LeAnn Paternostro of South Williamsport has benefitted from the Lycoming United Way.
"LeAnn spent a month and a half in the hospital receiving treatment for the tumor. The first step was a shunt implant to relieve the pressure in her brain followed by surgery. She was in the children's ICU," Cindy explained.
"Then the situation went from bad to worse when LeAnn suffered a stroke just after the surgery to remove the tumor.
"She lost all control of any bodily functions. After a month outside of the area for rehabilitation, we decided to bring LeAnn home - wheelchair and all, to see if any local rehabilitation facility would be able to help her," Cindy said.
The recovery journey began at Children's Development Center where LeAnn received intense therapy and after a while, she was able to take baby steps. "Although the progress was slow, at least she was on her way to recovering," thought her parents. LeAnn progressed from using a wheelchair to a walker.
Then Cindy saw an article in the newspaper about the warm water pool at the YWCA and decided to check it out. LeAnn attended warm water therapy classes at the YWCA for many weeks.
"This was the best thing we did. Slowly she was able to move her feet and start to kick again in the water. The program worked all parts of her body. It was wonderful!" Cindy exclaimed.
"We believe that it was the warm water therapy from the pool combined with the physical therapy at Children's Development Center that got LeAnn walking again," Cindy said.
LeAnn now is a healthy 11-year old and a wonderful swimmer, according to her mother. She has been on swim teams for almost six years and recently enrolled with her sister, Nicole, in the USS swimming program. LeAnn is a straight-A student, loves to read, and is described by her mother as a "normal pre-teen child.
"The only effect that was left from the brain tumor and the stroke is she will sometimes drag her left foot a little bit," Cindy added.
"I would recommend the warm water therapy at the YWCA to anyone who has difficulty moving their legs or arms. If it was not for that program, I honestly do not think that LeAnn would have made such a wonderful recovery," Cindy said.
Through the annual funds distribution process determined by community volunteers, United Way awarded the YWCA $107,500 for four different programs this year, including the warm water rehabilitation pool.
"Among the two treasures of our community are the unmatched rehabilitation services available through United Way Program Partners," said Scott N. Lowery, Lycoming County United Way executive director. "For LeAnn, the combined services of Children's Development Center and YWCA gave her new hope and the specialized rehabilitation needed to boost her confidence and regain control of her body enabling her to lead a normal life."
Call the YWCA at 322-4637, extension 159, or Children's Development Center at 326-0565 for more information on the programs.
For information on Lycoming County United Way or to contribute to the annual campaign that funds all of the programs like these, call 323-9448 or visit the United Way office at 1225 Clayton Ave.