Patient Stories

Sharing the Joy of Reagan’s Rainbows

After recovering from brain surgery at Golisano Restorative Neurology & Rehabilitation Center, Reagan created a way to give back to the people who helped her – and to other young patients.

Jul. 24, 2023 5   min read

Reagan Cutler holding comfort bags for pediatric patients

As a teenager heading into her junior year of high school, Reagan loves Broadway music, her family, and cute Squishmallows. She spends some of her spare time creating gift bags for children who need to stay in hospitals. Many of the bags are filled with some of her own favorite comfort items like blankets, socks, room decorations, and Squishmallows.

Reagan knows what helps to comfort young hospital patients because she was one of those patients just a short time ago.

An unexpected diagnosis

In summer 2022, Reagan began to experience persistent headaches. As the headaches worsened, her parents took her to the emergency department, where they learned she had a cancerous tumor located near her brain stem.

A brain scan showing Reagan's tumor
A scan showing the tumor in Reagan's brain

Chemotherapy and a series of surgeries followed, including a craniotomy in November to remove most of the tumor. Reagan arrived at Golisano Restorative Neurology & Rehabilitation Center shortly after her craniotomy surgery to undergo physical, occupation, and speech language therapy.

Reagan’s big goal: Return home by Christmas Day.

Reagan Cutler undergoing treatment
Reagan in a hospital bed following treatment for her brain tumor

Hard work paying off

While staying at Golisano, Reagan’s sense of joy was infectious. Her love of Broadway hits as a soundtrack to gym workouts, her always-present Squishmallows, and willingness to jump in and help decorate her unit for the holidays made her shine.

Reagan Cutler at Golisano Restorative Neurology & Rehabilitation Center
Reagan in physical therapy at Golisano Restorative Neurology & Rehabilitation Center

Reagan’s persistence paid off and she was able to reach her goal of returning home before the holidays.

Since being discharged, Reagan was able to finish 10th grade, walk more than 5 miles a day during a trip to New York City, see multiple musicals on Broadway, and take part in her dance company’s spring recital.

Reagan Cutler with her mother in NYC
Reagan and her mother in Times Square in New York City, four weeks after being discharged from Golisano Restorative Neurology & Rehabilitation Center
Reagan Cutler with friends and family at the Broadway musical SIX
Reagan poses outside the Broadway musical SIX with her family
Reagan Cutler and her sisters preparing for a dance recital
Reagan practices a dance piece with her sisters before performing it in June 2023

A greater mission

Reagan is serving as both a volunteer and participant at Camp Good Days this summer. Beyond this, Reagan and her family are giving back to the community that supported her during her medical journey through Reagan’s Rainbows of Hope. So far, Reagan and her mom estimate they have created more than 100 gift bags for inpatient pediatric patients.

Reagan Cutler with comfort bags for pediatric patients
Reagan with some of the comfort bags she created for pediatric patients at Rochester Regional Health hospitals

When staff members asked Reagan why she chose to create the comfort bags, her response was simple.

"I know it is hard to be in the hospital. I want to make people happy," Reagan said.

Reagan added the advice that her own mom told her during her recovery: ‘Never give up.’

"You don't realize how important it is to keep going, until it’s what you have to do,” Reagan’s mom said. “Keep pushing, keep working, keep trying. These are things that will help you get through it all."

Reagan Cutler smiling
Reagan Cutler

The mission behind Reagan's Rainbows of Hope and ways that others can support it can be found on the Facebook page and their Amazon registry.

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Our therapy teams at Golisano Restorative Neurology & Rehabilitation Center help patients to regain the ability to engage in activities that have personal meaning and value. Each patient works with our team through an individualized plan to develop, improve or restore independence.

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Golisano Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation Center
1555 Long Pond Road
3rd Floor
Rochester, New York 14626
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