Voices of the NIH Community

“A terrible year for three year olds”

2011 was a difficult year for Jamie Peacock and her wife Mary Ann Leonard – it seemed like all the three year old kids in their life were getting sick. Concerned aunts and NLM librarians, Jamie and Mary Ann talk about the power of research and knowledge and how they made a difference for their loved ones.


Jamie Peacock: Our dear friends’ healthy little three-year-old daughter was tragically killed in a car accident.  And then my niece Lila, who has had this rare disease, was going through a difficult time.  And then, sort of bookending that, your also three-year-old nephew Asher was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  It was a lot to process and I think we spent a long time trying to kind of come to terms with the fact and in that kind of tragic symmetry of all three of the children being the same age.

Mary Ann Leonard: Yeah, we talked about it as the bad year for three-year-olds.

Jamie Peacock: Yeah, terrible year for three-year-olds for us and I’m just very grateful in thinking about that, like, we lost Angelica and we lost Asher and we still have Lila and I’m so happy about that. 

Mary Ann Leonard: How do you see your role in being a part of that?

Jamie Peacock: When Lila first got sick, I think because her situation is undiagnosed, because it’s a rare disease and because we don’t know a lot still even, there was a role for me as a medical librarian at the National Library of Medicine.  So all the sudden these skills like researching her symptoms or searching for things that were going on for her or Lila’s mother could call me and I could look something up.  And what I realized is that I had access to all of these resources at NIH and that I knew what to look for.

Mary Ann Leonard: We talk about information being power, but I think for librarians it’s more that information is empowering.

Jamie Peacock: Right.

Mary Ann Leonard: It lets you make good decisions.

Jamie Peacock: I think what people don’t realize is that good information that you can make sound medical decisions for your loved ones is important; it’s comforting.  It’s comforting to think, wow, I have to make this decision for my loved one’s care and I’m not equipped to do that and look, I can go and find information that I can trust, that’s based on real science.

Mary Ann Leonard: Do you remember a particular moment when you found something or looked for something or--

Jamie Peacock: Yes.  I would read these abstracts and what the abstracts did is they gave us language to ask doctors better questions ‘cause by and large a lot of doctors like an informed patient.  You know, they like to think we’re part of a team, and so I was really helpful to be able to do that.  I didn’t expect my work to be meaningful in the way that it’s turned out to be meaningful.

Mary Ann Leonard: You also like to know things and to share what you know, to educate people and to share information.

Jamie Peacock: That’s a lovely way of putting it.  Jamie, you like to help other people by giving them information, sometimes until their eyes glaze over, but it comes from a good place.

Mary Ann Leonard: It does, it comes from a very good place.

This page last reviewed on February 27, 2023