Today Abby turns 9, and for the second year in a row, she’s celebrating her birthday in the hospital. Her mom, Patty, reflects on the past year and all the challenges their family has weathered together, from relapse to transplant to today.
Abby last November, two months after her relapse.
Looking back at where we have been, the many states of mind and motions we have experienced … it’s enough to make my head spin.
They say two heads are better than one — what about lots of heads? Thanks to a St. Baldrick’s Consortium Grant, six teams of brilliant minds are working to give hope to kids with hard-to-treat leukemias.
Fifty years ago, the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), was one of the deadliest.
Cure rates have gone from near zero in the mid-1960s to about 90% currently. That’s amazing, said St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Stephen Hunger of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, but it’s not enough.
At this time last year, one of our Honored Kids had a new lease on life. (You may remember her from this adorable video.)
At age 4, Abby was diagnosed with an aggressive childhood cancer called Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Thanks to research funded by St. Baldrick’s, she went into remission.
But this fall, Abby’s cancer returned. She’s having a bone marrow transplant today.
Here’s an update on Abby.
This summer, Abby completed a kids triathlon.
Dr. Choi, a St. Baldrick’s Scholar, completed a phase II clinical trial testing a new drug to help kids with leukemia and other childhood cancers, and the results are encouraging. Help fund research like Dr. Choi’s. Get involved.
Kids with leukemia, like 2011 Ambassador Julia, sometimes have to undergo a stem cell transplant as part of their childhood cancer treatment. Graft-versus-host disease is a common complication of transplants.
For some kids with cancer, a stem cell transplant is their only hope for a cure. But stem cell transplants are very risky procedures. About half of all transplant patients will experience acute graft-versus-host disease, or GVHD, an often fatal complication where the transplanted immune cells attack the patient’s body.
What do we do now?
Abby was diagnosed with Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia, an aggressive form of childhood cancer, when she was 4.
After doing that daily — along with a whole host of different treatments — for the last 32 months, it’s scary to stop.
We are extremely thankful for what we have and that we still have Abby here with us. But to say that we are celebrating every day isn’t true. At times I find myself holding my breath and waiting.
Every time I hear her coughing or complaining of something, my mind goes all over the place. For the past almost-three years, it’s never been just a cold; it was usually pneumonia. It never was just a tummy ache; it was C. diff, rotavirus, typhlitis, you name it. And now, without the safety net of chemo, is it the dreaded “R-word” — relapse?
“Your child has cancer.”
When Abby was 4, she was diagnosed with Ph+ ALL, a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer.
“Every child is different, every disease is different, but this is relatively good news,” explained the doctor. “ALL is one of the most common forms of leukemia, and great advances in treatment have been made.”
One week into chemotherapy treatment, Abby’s diagnosis got more complicated when we learned she had Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph+) ALL, an aggressive subtype of leukemia. Our oncologists let us know that the recommended care would involve a bone marrow transplant.
Zoe, a 2010 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador, was diagnosed with Ph+ ALL when she was 4 years old. Now 9, Zoe is starting fourth grade, taking hip hop and ballet classes, and is starting treatment with a targeted chemotherapy pill. Zoe’s mom, Suzanne, gives us an update.
2010 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Zoe with her mom, Suzanne. Zoe recently started treatment for a molecular relapse due to Ph+ ALL.
When Zoe was 4, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. At first we were told it was the best-case scenario, that leukemia had great treatments and outcomes.
Eight days later, that all changed.
Little victories are made in research labs every day in the long, determined fight against childhood cancers, but today, I’m excited to say, is a big victory kind of day. More kids with a specific type of cancer will survive!
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Gleevec (imatinib) to treat children newly diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL).
Zoe was four at the time, and had started limping. My animated, lively daughter, who once turned hallways into runways, was hardly moving. It was a complete, dramatic shift – something I knew was more than just growing pains.
And it was. In 2008, my sweet girl was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer. “She has good odds,” they told us. Survival rates are high for this type of cancer and she should be able to continue most of her normal activities during treatment. We were shocked, but full of hope.
Eight days later, we received a second set of news. And this time, it was worse.
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