Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is tough for doctors to treat. Because of that, the intense treatment needed to beat AML can be especially tough on the kids who have it. St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Anders Kolb wants to change that with targeted therapy. To do this, he’s getting a little help from his friends – including St. Baldrick’s.
Dr. Anders Kolb is one of St. Baldrick’s newest grantees.
Many kids in treatment for AML are getting hammered by strong treatments, like intense chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants. These therapies can save their lives, but often come with a steep cost as they grow up.
“There’s only so much we can do with the tools in our toolbox,” said Dr. Anders Kolb, who works at the Alfred I. Dupont Hospital for Children in Delaware. “We have five different hammers and they’re all really big hammers. We don’t have anything that is more subtle and more targeted.”
Not yet, at least.
What do childhood cancer researchers do when they see a problem? They band together to solve it. Read on to learn why institutions across Texas and California are joining forces and what they’re doing to help kids with cancer.
Dr. Philip Lupo is the principal investigator of the REDIAL Consortium, as well as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Co-Director of the Epidemiology Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers.
Years ago, St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Philip Lupo and his colleagues at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine noticed a problem.
According to studies they read and stories Dr. Lupo heard from clinicians, kids who are Hispanic don’t do as well on treatment as other kids with acute leukemias. They are more likely to experience complications and are at higher risk of relapse than kids of other backgrounds.
But scientists don’t know exactly why that is.
Honored Kid Brooke was diagnosed with PH+ acute myeloid leukemia in 2015. She is now a survivor, but that doesn’t mean life is easy, ‘normal’ or back to a fraction of what it was like before cancer. Brooke explains…
(Left) Brooke during treatment after her 2015 diagnosis. (Right) Brooke poses for a photo during her first day back at school this year.
Cancer survivorship isn’t pretty. When I was diagnosed, I imagined that if I survived, my life after cancer would somehow be sweeter. Maybe I would appreciate the little things more or unlock some secret wisdom that would render me happier, more peaceful. This was believable through my first few rounds of chemo.
Then, I had a bone marrow transplant and became so ill that I spent five months inpatient post-transplant.
“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.
VIDEO: Phineas’ Story >
On a mountain bike ride with a friend, 9-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.
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 he completed his chemotherapy treatment and is loving life as a 4-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.
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