Giancarlo who was 10 years old when he was diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia. He is now cancer free...please follow his progress on this site. Click on My story to read more...
Giancarlo's battle with leukemia began on October 9, 2007. He had not been feeling well for a few weeks with low grade fevers and traveling pains throughout his body. After his pediatrician did some blood tests we were referred directly to the CCMC Oncology group, particularly Dr. Altman in 2J at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford.
Giancarlo was diagnosed with High Risk - Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (more commonly referred to as High Risk - ALL). Subsequent cytogenetic testing was done to determine the sub-type; Giancarlo was diagnosed with a very rare sub-type called Hypodiploidy. There are only about 10 cases of it diagnosed each year in the U.S.
Hypodiploidy: Approximately 1% of children with ALL have leukemia cells showing hypodiploidy with less than 45 chromosomes. These patients are at high risk for treatment failure. A significant trend is observed for a progressively worse outcome with a decreasing chromosome number, such that cases with 24 to 28 chromosomes (near haploidy) have the worst outcome. (Giancarlo had 26)
Giancarlo was considered an Early Responder and went into remission within the first 30 days of treatment, however this is not traditionally a problem for Hypodiploid patients, as many of them can achieve remission but do not remain there with traditional ALL treatment - i.e. 20% success rate. He continued with his protocol AALL0031 until January 2008.
After many discussions with doctors in Connecticut, Boston and even at Duke in North Carolina, we believe that a Bone Marrow Transplant is Giancarlo’s best chance to stay in remission. Giancarlo underwent treatment at Boston Children's Hospital and on February 12, 2008 Giancarlo received his cells from an unrelated cord donor for a bone marrow transplant.
Giancarlo returned home from Boston at the end of March 2008. He went through many difficult days post transplant with viruses and infections but by August 2008 he was well on the road to recovery. Although he was in isolation from everyone but his immediate family he made the best of it, he was lucky enough to see many friends and family in the outdoors and even got to enjoy a huge 11th Birthday celebration in August 2008.
Giancarlo is now fully recovered and has reentered normal life. He has returned to his 6th Grade class at Emerson Williams Elementary School on February 23, 2009 and is looking forward to trying out for Little League Baseball.
Through it all our family could not get through this without our faith in the Lord as well as the love and support we received from our family, friends and community. We will never forget the impact these past 17 months has had on our lives. On February 21, 2009 we had a Celebration of the Mass of Thanksgiving for Giancarlo here is our prayer of Thanksgiving we shared with all in attendance.
Today we gather on this beautiful day with our family and friends to thank you for healing our son Giancarlo. Fourteen months ago we gathered together as a community to pray that our son Giancarlo would be healed and to give our family the physical and mental strength to get through this journey. We gained strength from that gathering to make treatment decisions and resolved to cure him and keep our family strong.
The road was rough at times, but we know YOU were there with us each day in a different way. We saw YOU, in the eyes of our family and friends that called us, sent us notes and cards, took care of our children, and brought us dinner. We saw YOU, in the eyes of all the doctors and nurses who took care of Giancarlo as if he was their own son. We saw YOU in the eyes of the people and organizations that helped emotionally and financially as we moved to Boston for treatment.
Lord, you were there with us every step of this journey and we thank You for carrying us as we were on this road. We have persevered and made it through by your grace and mercy.