Some children are born strong, with good health and resilience on their side. Some are more like a china cup, delicate and not easily mended.
Jillian Kulinski is among the latter. At 12, she is fair and quiet, with a hesitant smile and a medical history so fragile it hurts to tell it.
Jillian has recurring brain tumors. The first was discovered just before she turned 2.
After undergoing surgery, she suffered complications, including meningitis, which left her paralyzed from her neck down.
Jillian slowly regained the use of her right side but could barely use her left side. She had significant hearing loss. It took her a year to learn to crawl and walk again.
By the time she was 6, her parents, Bob and Julie Kulinski of Dixon, learned the tumor had grown back. Jillian went through more surgery, and again had to relearn crawling and walking.
She received chemotherapy for a while, but doctors discontinued it because it exacerbated the symptoms of another neurological condition that Jillian has, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. In March of this year, an MRI showed the tumor appears to be changing, though slowly.
Jillian has memory loss, is cognitively two years behind her age and gets sick often.
Her left side has remained weak, which has caused her spine to curve. She lives with frequent headaches and pain in her neck, left arm and leg.
"Sometimes she cries. Sometimes she doesn't tell us," said Julie Kulinski, a medical assistant who stays home with serious health issues of her own.
Bob Kulinski is a locomotive electrician with Union Pacific Railroad in Roseville. The parents have three older children, age 24, 23 and 13, all of whom help out. The parents, who know their youngest will need more surgeries, are trying to save for some special treatments they hope will help her.
Since she was 5, Jillian has worn the same hearing aids. She hears constant crackling noises. At school she wears a special device to help her hear her teacher better; she doesn't like it and covers it with her hair. Her medical situation has caused her to fall behind in school.
Jillian needs new hearing aids not covered by the family's insurance. Bob Kulinski's fellow workers at the Union Pacific Employee Club No. 86 are asking Book of Dreams readers to help buy the hearing aids, which will help Jillian feel more comfortable and able to succeed in school.
NEEDED: New hearing aids for Jillian Kulinski.