Dr. Edward Allan Sison, a former St. Baldrick’s Fellow, is a faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Cancer Center. He’s researching ways to make chemotherapy more effective in children with high-risk leukemias. He explains APL leukemia symptoms, treatment options, and how your support is moving research forward to help kids with this disease.
What is acute promyelocytic leukemia?
Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) comes from a type of white blood cells called promyelocytes.
Normal promyelocytes will grow up into white blood cells that fight off infection. In APL, the promyelocytes forget that they are supposed to grow up, and instead multiply at a very fast rate.
Emily’s nickname as a camp counselor is “Sunshine,” and for good reason.
Diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia in April 2016, Emily has kept a sunny attitude, despite a devastating diagnosis and a risky treatment plan.
Honored Kid Sophie was just 3 months old when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. When Sophie passed away 15 months later, her parents worried that she might be forgotten. They decided to honor Sophie’s memory by starting a memorial fund in her name, forever tying her to a cause they care deeply about: funding childhood cancer research.
“The next place that I go
will be as peaceful and familiar
as a sleepy summer Sunday
and a sweet, untroubled mind.
And yet….it won’t be anything like any place I’ve ever been…
or seen…or dreamed of
in the place I leave behind.”
– “The Next Place” by Warren Hanson
Our first child, Sophie, was born in October 2013, and we were smitten with her the instant that she arrived.
A few months later, we noticed some odd bruise-like spots on Sophie’s torso and back. She had a runny nose for a couple of weeks but we didn’t think much of it, as everyone around us seemed to have a cold. Still, her “spots” concerned us so we brought her to the pediatrician.
The doctor shared our concerns and immediately sent us for blood work.
That night marked the first of many long stays at the hospital. A bone marrow biopsy revealed that our precious 3-month-old had acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Frightened and confused, we immediately began treatment.
Two years ago we brought you the incredible story of Kate Foster, who was just getting back to the gym after surviving childhood cancer. Now she’s 17 and still competing in gymnastics — all while keeping up top grades, applying to colleges, and advocating for kids with cancer. Read Kate’s story in her own words below.
When I was 8 years old I started competitive gymnastics and it quickly became my life.
Before Honored Kid Aiden was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in October 2015, there seemed to be more questions than answers. But just recently, he completed his chemotherapy treatment and is loving life as a 3-year-old kid. Read on to hear about Aiden’s remarkable childhood cancer journey.
Aiden slurping his milk from his silly straw glasses.
Aiden’s parents shouldn’t have been able to have kids.
After trying for so many years to have children — and losing some along the way — they knew something was wrong.
Every day, Dr. Jessica Pollard harnesses her love of science and her passion for research to fight for kids with AML. Read on for more about the longtime St. Baldrick’s Scholar and what she’s doing to give kids with cancer the childhoods they deserve.
St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Jessica Pollard does research on AML, one of the most common childhood cancers.
Dr. Jessica Pollard is all about analyzing prognostic factors. It floats her boat and puts the pep in her step. In fact, sometimes she burns the midnight oil doing just that.
But what exactly is this analyzing prognostic factor business that she likes so much?
In plain English, it’s examining certain things about a patient that can help tell her whether a person will recover from their cancer or relapse.
“My husband thinks I’m a geek, but you know, it keeps me going,” Dr. Pollard said.
Her geekery also saves lives.
Kids are special, and that’s why they need treatments made just for them. St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Heather Schuback agrees. She’s looking at the very building blocks of acute myeloid leukemia cells to spot differences that could help kids get the targeted therapy they need.
St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Heather Schuback works in the lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.
Kids are not just little adults, says St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Heather Schuback.
That means their cancers aren’t just smaller, younger versions of adult cancers. They are fundamentally different.
Dr. Schuback should know. Her St. Baldrick’s-funded research is looking at how changes in the DNA of tumor cells can predict who will do well during treatment and who won’t. This information could help doctors tailor therapies from the start, getting kids just the right amount of treatment to kill the cancer, while limiting late-effects.
But these differences aren’t limited to which kids will respond well to treatment and which won’t. It’s bigger than that.
Yesterday, Ambassador Phineas’ dad, Carlos, joined more than 200 childhood cancer advocates on Capitol Hill to drum up support in Washington for kids with cancer. He opened up about what it’s like to have two children diagnosed with cancer, how research saved his son’s life, and why he won’t stop telling his family’s story. Read his powerful speech below.
Carlos with his son, Phineas. Phineas was diagnosed with cancer when he was 4, six years after his sister Althea died of childhood cancer.
I live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but like most of my neighbors, I’m not actually from North Carolina. Chapel Hill is a college town where new people come and go every year.
Whenever my wife and I meet people for the first time, one of the first questions we get asked is, “So, how did you end up in Chapel Hill?”
When I hear that question, I always freeze for a second because I have to decide carefully how I want to answer.
Ambassador Phineas was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2013. He’s alive today because of research funded by St. Baldrick’s. His mom, Tina, shares how their family will be spending his three-year diagnosis anniversary.
The Sandi Family (left to right): Fiona, Carlos, Phineas and Tina.
On March 28, 2013, we found out that our 4-year-old son, Phineas, had cancer. It was a terrible day — but heartbreakingly familiar.
“Our son would not be with us today if it weren’t for St. Baldrick’s,” says Phineas’ dad, Carlos. Read on to see how research saved the little boy’s life.
NEW VIDEO: Phineas’ Story >
On a recent mountain bike ride with a friend, 7-year-old Phineas was sailing along when he decided to take a risk and pedal over a bridge not meant for bicycle traffic. He wiped out in a big way.
But without so much as a single tear, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and got back on the bike.
Compared to what this boy had been through two years before, that was nothing.
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