“It was like a wall coming down”

Cynthia Brunk

In May of 2009, Cynthia Brunk was a bright, talkative and active healthy young girl who was suddenly hospitalized for seizures and high fever. She spent 8 days in the ICU at a Seattle hospital where her family learned that she was battling the H1N1 virus. After Cynthia was discharged from the hospital, her family was thankful for her life, but worried about the new behavior that Cynthia exhibited. Upon her recovery, Cynthia was now nonverbal, engaged in outbursts of crying, and began to act out. She lost her memory and was unable to remember how to engage in activities she once participated in as a healthy toddler just weeks before her illness. Her parents, Lee Brunk and Suyan Wen, were lost, confused, stressed, and worried. Resources seemed slim and it wasn’t until they heard about Boyer through another community organization that Suyan and Lee wondered if someone could help them bring their daughter back to life.

Through Boyer’s speech and language pathology program, Cynthia learned to speak again. She was taught how to self-regulate during her interactions with others and began playing with other children again. Today, Cynthia’s memory is returning and she is able to interact at a more functional level with others. Her parents credit these improvements to Boyer’s physical and occupational work with their daughter.

One improvement that was helpful for Cynthia was the work that Boyer did around helping Cynthia become more comfortable with going to the doctor. After her time in the hospital, Cynthia became increasingly afraid of doctors and hospitals. Sandy Chen, Cynthia’s older sister, describes how doctors were unable to examine Cynthia because she would scream loudly whenever she entered a medical facility. Through role playing scenarios led by Boyer Clinic staff, Cynthia learned how to attend doctor’s appointments without being afraid. Today, Cynthia walks into an exam room confidently, often waving goodbye to her family as she leaves them in the waiting room.

During this time, it was also increasingly stressful for Suyan and Lee to manage the stress of their daughter’s illness. When Suyan needed a Chinese interpreter to assist with family counseling and coaching, Boyer provided that service for them. Boyer helped Cynthia’s parents receive assistance in a unique and personalized way so that they could learn to cope with their daughter’s new life. Suyan was most grateful for this assistance and credits Boyer for helping not only Cynthia, but also her and her husband as well.

Today, Suyan and Lee are comfortable with Cynthia’s future. Suyan is deeply grateful to Boyer for rescuing her daughter. Sandra is relieved and happy that her little sister is getting better. Watching her sister’s success at Boyer has opened the door for Sandra to consider helping with developmentally delayed children in the future. In addition, Cynthia’s father Lee likens Cynthia’s success at Boyer to a wall that has been torn down. She is no longer blocked by an inability to communicate or by behavior that prevents her from interacting with others. Cynthia is becoming increasingly more independent and her family is hopeful again. Thanks to Boyer for changing the life of Cynthia and her family.

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