We all have turning points in our lives where everything changes in an instant. Sometimes these moments are happy milestones, like graduation day or the birth of a child. Other times, these moments are harrowing, such as the sudden need for lifesaving care.
Through the decades, Phoenix Children’s has supported children and families through critical moments with state-of-the-art medical care and the compassion of our dedicated team. Here, we share these life-changing experiences of our patients and team members throughout the decades—because moments count.
Finding purpose in healing
In 1992, 7-year-old Brian Bogert was standing next to his mom’s car in a store parking lot when the course of his life changed in a matter of seconds. A truck pulled up to park, but when the driver got out, the vehicle began rolling. A passenger still in the vehicle jumped into action. But instead of hitting the brake, the passenger accidentally floored the gas pedal.
“The truck went up and over the tree in the median, hit our car, knocked me over, ran over me diagonally—tearing my spleen—and left tire tracks on my stomach,” he says. “And then it continued on to sever my left arm.” A nurse who was exiting the store saw what had happened and immediately got his arm on ice.
Phoenix Children’s reattached Bogert’s arm in a 10-hour surgery. He underwent more than 20 reconstructive procedures in the ensuing years. As he visited Phoenix Children’s, he formed bonds with the staff. “I had an incredible nurse who used to bring me homemade spaghetti,” he says.
Bogert eventually regained much of the function in his left arm. Today, as a human behavior coach and entrepreneur, he draws on the power of his story to connect others to the healing potential within their own lives. His advice for others going through difficult recoveries? Healing mentally and emotionally is just as important as healing physically. “If you don’t feel, you won’t heal,” he says.
Today, Bogert’s journey has come full circle: His two young children are Phoenix Children’s patients. His wife, Ashley, says, “I know both of our children think it is pretty awesome to be treated at the facility that saved Daddy’s arm!”
Hope, not heartbreak
In 2022, Brie and Eric’s 1-year-old son, Nolan (aka “Noly Poly”), was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer that’s most often seen in young children. In a moment, everything changed. “My sister told me, ‘Welcome to the worst club with the best people,’” says Brie.
Nolan would undergo surgery at Phoenix Children’s to remove the 2.5-pound tumor that consumed his 19-pound body. Six months of chemotherapy followed.
The day after his surgery, Brie wrote: “I don’t want to ever forget the sheer rawness of yesterday, the way the room was spinning when they went over the surgery risks, what it felt like to hug and kiss my baby goodbye.”
Nolan’s treatment required additional surgeries, blood and platelet transfusions, dialysis and more. Brie credits the Spiritual Care team at Phoenix Children’s with helping their family manage the complex emotions they experienced. “They are probably one of the most underutilized resources in the hospital,” she says.
Brie and her family leaned on Phoenix Children's Spiritual Care team while Nolan underwent cancer treatment. The team, which is 100% funded by philanthropy, made 6,000 patient visits in 2022.
In October 2022, Nolan rang the bell that signifies the end of chemo, and Brie says what her sister told her on the day Nolan was diagnosed turned out to be true. “Our care team are really some of the best people we have ever known,” Brie says. “This isn’t just a story about Noly. It’s a story about every person who was part of a thousand little miracles that meant life for our child. Some people might think cancer is just a story of heartbreak, but it’s actually a story of so much hope.”
A lifetime together
This year, nurse Jennifer Crain and Phoenix Children’s celebrate their 40th birthdays. Crain recently accepted the position of director of clinical ambulatory services, and she’s also the practice manager for the endocrinology department. But her story with Phoenix Children’s begins shortly after she and the hospital were born in 1983.
By 1986, Crain had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Although she doesn’t remember her first hospital visit for her condition, she recalls being admitted later for diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication. “I had lots of educators come in and people talking to my mom, dad and me,” she says. When she returned home, she received a special gift from Phoenix Children’s, a giant teddy bear with the hospital’s logo. She still has the stuffed animal but has since given it to her kids.
Her own diabetes diagnosis propelled her to become a nurse. “I had great nurses and people in the hospital who took care of me,” she recalls. “I wanted to be able to provide that back to those who were going through similar things.”
With the goal of working at Phoenix Children’s, Crain kept her eye out for an opening and landed a role at the hospital in 2019, where she now works alongside some of the diabetes educators who first assisted her and her family. Crain enjoys helping young patients learn that even with diabetes, nothing is impossible. “You can do anything,” she says. “You can’t let it hold you back.”
Phoenix Children's is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation's best children's hospitals for diabetes and endocrinology.
Guarding and greeting with kindness
In 2013, Anthony Bragg faced a moment that changed his career trajectory. He almost didn’t accept the offer to become a security guard at Phoenix Children’s because he didn’t want to work at a hospital. “I thought I said no, but my mouth said yes,” he says. In the 10 years since he began his role, however, he’s become a beloved fixture. And he’s made it his mission to be a beacon of light for patients and families.
“I try to make them all feel at home, make them all feel comfortable,” Bragg says. “Love, kindness, care and comfort is my goal to give them—as well as protection.”
Bragg is keenly aware that families coming to a hospital are often dealing with a difficult time. He says he wishes he could take the discomfort or pain away, but he knows the only thing he can control is the impact he has on others. “What I can do is send that message that we love them and that we care for them and that we stand with them in every way.”
Patients and their families have taken notice of Bragg’s warm presence. Bragg recalls speaking to a family who had just lost their child. “They took the time to come find me,” he says, “to tell me how much that I meant to them during their time at the hospital.”
In addition to his passion for his job, Bragg has a talent for music, which he’s studying in school. He plays in a band that performs at festivals and other shows. And even though he’s making money as a musician, he’s not giving up his role at the hospital. “God revealed my mission to me,” he says. “So until my mission is up, I’m going to be spreading love as much as I can to everybody.”
A full-circle moment
In 2008, Adina Cervantes accepted a position as an administrative assistant in Phoenix Children’s pulmonology department. Later, she transferred to HR, where she now works as a coordinator. But Cervantes’ connection to Phoenix Children’s dates back four decades.
In 1984, her mom, Nancy Gastelum, gave birth to her and her twin sister at 26 weeks. “The nurses said we were so small, we barely fit in the palm of your hand,” Cervantes says. “Unfortunately, my sister didn’t make it.”
Cervantes wasn’t out of the woods, either. Her condition required a lengthy hospital stay. “Home for me, for the first three months of my life,” she says, “was the NICU. Thank you to the team of individuals who cared for us and truly saved my life.”
As a child, Cervantes required ongoing care to manage her health. “What made each visit less scary was a familiar face,” she says. “There to greet my mother and me was a nurse named Marcia. Her grace and caring nature shined bright.”
Though she didn’t know it at the time, Cervantes would one day have the opportunity to repay Marcia’s kindness. More than two decades after they first met, Cervantes and Marcia became colleagues at Phoenix Children’s. “I was given a chance to personally assist the nurse whose same smiling face impacted my life as a child,” she says.
Read the full issue of Moments.