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Our patients, our inspiration



Eight-year-old Ilaria Easom has a vibrant personality to go with her bright blue eyes and playful smile. Ilaria likes to hike, swim and ride her bike. She adores planting seeds and watching them grow. Ilaria is artistic, too, and likes to paint. She is very loving and hugs everyone she meets. Ilaria makes everyone smile.

Three days after Ilaria turned 3, she was diagnosed with yolk sac germ cell cancer. A tumor the size of an adult fist had been found in the center of her chest cavity, which had wrapped around her trachea, collapsed her lung and was encroaching on her heart. “We were completely devastated,” says Ilaria’s dad, Colin. “But, Ilaria was very courageous, and the support we received was amazing.” After major surgery to remove the tumor and four rounds of chemotherapy, Ilaria has been in remission now for five years. “Ilaria is a real trouper,” says her pediatric oncologist and Steele Center researcher, Dr. Emmanuel Katsanis.


Gavin Achilles is an active little boy enjoying life. Gavin’s favorite thing to do in the entire world is swim and float on his back. Gavin loves T-ball and soccer.

When Gavin was born, he was unable to eat. “It was just horrible,” recalls Gavin’s mom, Erin. “He was very ill and failing to thrive.” Gavin met Steele Center pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Fayez K. Ghishan, and was diagnosed with “EG” (eosinophilic gastroenteritis), a painful GI disorder that causes nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and choking.

“Under Dr. Ghishan’s care, Gavin began to immediately improve,” says Erin. Gavin was placed on a feeding tube for 5 months. His parents began to slowly introduce solid foods into his diet. “Now, Gavin can eat almost anything. He loves cheese, strawberries and orange popsicles,” says Erin. “It’s great to see him enjoy food!” Gavin continues to receive care from Dr. Ghishan at the Steele Center’s PANDA Children’s Aerodigestive Disorders Center.


Syd is a dynamo and the love of his parents’ lives. An exuberant little boy, Syd loves to play basketball, swim, read books, listen to classical music and is fascinated by umbrellas. “We’re amazed by his musical prowess,” says his dad, Dennis. “He already knows the composers of many classical pieces!”

Adopted by his parents through foster care, Syd’s birth mother did not receive prenatal care. This resulted in some neurological and behavioral challenges for Syd. Currently, he receives specialized care from Steele Center physician Dr. Sydney Rice, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician. Recently, Syd participated in the PANDA “Children Helping Children” fundraiser to help the Steele Center create the “PANDA Children’s Neurological Center,” the only such facility of its kind in Arizona.


Danny Lochhead is a bright and energetic boy who loves to build model airplanes and has dreams of flying his own someday. When he was six and a half, Danny was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma (pediatric bone cancer). After a year of treatment that included surgery to remove a tumor on his ribs and numerous intense chemotherapy treatments, Danny is now in remission.

“We are grateful for all the care we received from our pediatric oncologists, nurses and technicians,” says Danny’s mom April. “If it weren’t for ongoing research, Danny may not have survived—not only his cancer but his entire ordeal. The funds that support pediatric cancer research at the Steele Center enable investigators to identify more effective ways to treat pediatric cancer patients like Danny.”

Anna and Adam

Anna and Adam Masciola both have eosoniphilic disorders commonly known as EE and EG that cause tummy pain, nausea, cramping and difficulty swallowing. But these bright, cheerful and energetic siblings are doing well under the care of Dr. Fayez K. Ghishan. “Dr. Ghishan was able to diagnose Anna’s problem within10 minutes of examining her,” says Katherine, their mom. “And it was the same with Adam. I’m very grateful for the dedicated care my children receive. And the research being conducted at the Steele Center will ultimately improve their health through new treatments."


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UA College of Medicine : Arizona Health Sciences Center : The University of Arizona

Steele Children's Research Center
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PO Box 245073
Tucson, Arizona 85724
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