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Toni is a clinical researcher with a Master of Science degree in Healthcare Administration from Central Michigan University. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Alcorn State University in Biology Pre-Med. Peterson has been in the forefront of cutting edge cancer research for over 10 years. With this platform, Peterson is working to educate fellow researchers of the importance in conducting clinical trials in patients with 22q11DS.

Toni’s son, Nicholas, was a thriving teenager with big dreams of becoming a high school student. The family knew there were going to be challenging times ahead, but had no idea of the life changing events the year 2012 would hold for them.

It is now October, and the school year has been in session since August. Nicholas has an appointment at the AFLAC Sickle Cell Clinic and the family is thinking…nothing new about this appointment, simply routine lab checks.

In the examination room with his nurse practitioner, Nicholas’ parents learned that a trend was noted regarding his calcium levels which showed there was a consistent decrease in levels over time; over the span of 5 years to be exact. As concerned parents, they questioned how, why, and what could have caused this occurrence? The practitioner indicated that based on Nicholas’ medical history and other visible symptoms that he may have a disorder called DiGeorge Syndrome. “What is DiGeorge Syndrome?” they asked, while taking note to every word in her response. And at that very moment, time stood still.

This was the beginning of her family’s journey with 22q11DS and shortly thereafter, mental illness.