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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Rosie the Renegade No Stranger to Masks

July 17, 2020

At almost 3 years old, little Rosie Kubik has climbed more mountains and conquered more obstacles than most of us can imagine. The spunky red-head has spent most of her young life battling serious health issues, and now is using her experience and voice to share an important message.

On Aug. 4, 2017, Rosie was diagnosed with leukemia at 11 months old. Donning a mask was essential to her health and safety. Rosie’s treatment plan was intense; constantly suppressing her immune system. A simple cold would have meant a visit to the hospital ICU, or worse.

Then, in October of 2018, Rosie faced another battle after contracting acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. The rare neurological disease, commonly known as a polio-like illness, attacked her muscles and reflexes. Rosie suffered respiratory failure and relied on a ventilator when she admitted to Madonna’s Lincoln Campus pediatric unit.

During her inpatient rehabilitation, the toddler earned the nickname Rosie the Renegade as she fought to re-learn developmental milestones like feeding herself, sitting and standing. Rosie’s blue eyes peeked out above her rainbow-colored mask and her fun-loving personality emerged as she gradually weaned off the ventilator and found her voice during months of daily rehabilitation. The toddler continued reaching goals during her transition to Madonna’s outpatient therapy program.

Rosie was thriving in the outpatient program when COVID-19 hit Nebraska hard in March. Sheltering at home, Cassie works on exercises with Rosie and they recently began weekly interactive telehealth therapy. She’s walking more independently and only needs breathing support at night.

Because of her health risks, a mask has been a staple for much of Rosie’s young life. Not only is it an accessory she regularly wears, those around her also don a face covering. Even before the pandemic, Rosie and her family were masking up and social distancing to protect her health.

Rosie understands your frustration with wearing a face covering. Initially, she didn’t love the mask and would pull it off, but gradually learned to keep it on. Her parents, Cassie and Lee Kubik, are big proponents and view the mask as a simple, potentially life-saving measure for their daughter.

“I hope people understand that by wearing a mask they are preventing the spread of germs, but are also protecting immunocompromised people like sweet Rosie,” said Cassie. “We want to get back to normal as much as everyone, but for now it’s essential that everyone band together and try to do their part.”

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