The Greatest Gift: Our Daughter




tammy image
Phoenix Bridegroom, Chesterton, Ind.

When my husband John and I chose the name “Phoenix” for our daughter, we never could have guessed how well it would represent her. We watched her stand triumphant; transformed out of the ashes of what could have been catastrophe, were it not for Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

Phoenix was diagnosed three years ago at age 5 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).  Her cancer presented in a very odd way: she was completely functional, and then instantly, something was terribly wrong. Her white blood cell count was so high that her brain started hemorrhaging. She was intubated immediately and airlifted to a Riley, three hours away from our home in northwest Indiana.

Phoenix was in the ICU on life support for twelve days. Because of her brain injury, at first she was unresponsive and blind. A pediatric ophthalmologist performed two surgeries to save her vision.

One thing I want every Riley supporter to know is the tremendous difference it makes to have multiple specialists all in one building who are on top of new technology and treatments. Because of the rarity of Phoenix's cancer, she was put on a European study, which was a breakthrough treatment. When you give to Riley, you help Riley’s physician-scientists keep discovering new ways to save lives.

Riley saved Phoenix. Now, after three wonderful years of health, Phoenix has recently begun a new battle with cancer. We are confident Riley is the very best place to help her fight again.

This year, Phoenix is appearing in The Gift of Hope Happens Here holiday season campaign.

Our wish is for others to give to this magical place, because we want every family in crisis to receive the same great gift our family received once and now hopes to receive again: a chance to rise from the ashes into a beautiful, hope-filled future.


Tammy Bridegroom, Riley Parent

Tammy and her husband of 18 years, John, live in the Northern Indiana community of Chesterton with their daughters Phoenix and Diva. Tammy worked in the past as an administrator for her local YMCA, and became a full-time mom after Phoenix's diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia three years ago.


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