Cancer and Blood Disorders

All Articles in the Category ‘Cancer and Blood Disorders’

A Mother’s Ambitious Goal to Raise $1 Million for Cancer Research

Christine O’Connell knows the walls of Seattle Children’s all too well.

In 2017, the O’Connell’s 3-year-old daughter Jane was diagnosed with stage IV Wilms, a pediatric kidney cancer. The cancer had spread to both of her lungs, lymph nodes and a vertebra in her spine. The months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries that changed their lives forever are still vivid memories.

“Radiation and chemotherapy was our only hope to save Jane’s life, but it is so damaging to young, developing bodies. She will suffer the effects of treatment for the rest of her life,” O’Connell said.

Then she learned that Seattle Children’s was pioneering a better way.

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Six Years Later: Immunotherapy’s Tiniest Trial Participant Is Living With “So Much Joy”

Greta Oberhofer, now 7 years old, was the first patient under age 2 included in Seattle Children’s cancer immunotherapy clinical trials. Her parents once considered hospice care for their 13-month-old daughter. Now, Greta has been in remission for six years.

In the fall of 2013, Maggie and Andy Oberhofer watched their tiny, 8-month old daughter, Greta, fight for her life in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

Greta had just been through a bone marrow transplant to treat her highly aggressive leukemia. Shortly after, she took a turn for the worse and spent a perilous month in the PICU.

Greta eventually recovered from the transplant and was able to go home, but the family’s reprieve only lasted three months. In March 2014, Greta’s cancer relapsed. Her chance of survival was now 10% or less.

Her parents couldn’t imagine dragging Greta through another bone marrow transplant, so they began to consider end-of-life care for their 13-month-old daughter.

“It was gut-wrenching, knowing her odds were so low,” Maggie said. “We were preparing ourselves to say goodbye to her.”

That’s when they learned about a new option — a cancer immunotherapy trial at Seattle Children’s. Read full post »

Fatherhood, When Your Son Has Cancer

In many ways, my role as a father did not change after my 17-month old son, Isaac, was diagnosed with cancer.

Everyone faces adversity in their lives. Did I think ours would be this? Heck no. Did I want it to be this? This is the last thing I wanted. Take me before you take him, I thought.

But the severity of our situation hasn’t changed the lessons I teach my sons: In situations of extreme stress, maintain your demeanor and learn how to process and handle that stress; Be kind to people in the midst of adversity; Treat people the way you want to be treated; Be respectful.

And, never give up.

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With Cancer on the Back Burner, Champion Junior Chef Cooks Up His Dreams

Fuller Goldsmith, 16, has always dreamed of being a top chef.

After winning the Food Network’s Chopped Jr. reality TV cooking competition, Fuller Goldsmith, 16, was well on his way to achieving his dreams of becoming a professional chef. It was a future that was soon in jeopardy when life for the aspiring chef took an uncertain, but all too familiar turn. In late 2018, Fuller learned his cancer had returned for a fourth time.

Having undergone treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) since age 3, Fuller was out of standard treatment options. Their local oncologist told the Goldsmiths about the cancer immunotherapy clinical trials at Seattle Children’s. He thought the experimental chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy, which engineers a patient’s own immune cells to target and eliminate cancer cells, might offer the best hope for Fuller. Read full post »

From Stunning Diagnosis to Unexpected Hope: MEK Inhibitor Proves Amazing for Grace

Despite a lifetime of medical setbacks, you’ll almost always find 18-year-old Grace Carney smiling.

Grace Carney was 16 years old when she first began falling. Before long, she was falling every day. It got so bad that she had to rely on other people — family members at home and aides at school — to help her walk.

For Grace, this was the latest in a lifetime of medical setbacks, many of which stem from neurofibromatosis type one (NF1), a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow all over the body, including under the skin and on the nerves.

To improve Grace’s ability to walk, a doctor in Spokane recommended a major orthopedic surgery. But as the Carneys prepared for that surgery, an MRI result flipped everything upside down and brought them to Seattle Children’s, where Grace received an innovative medical treatment that changed her life and could do the same for countless others with NF1. Read full post »

Fighting to Give Every Child With Cancer a Chance to Become a Parent

Taylor Tran (left) and her mother Mai Nguyen. Taylor underwent cancer treatment when she was 2 years old, causing her to go into early menopause when she was just 16.

“You pay the price for having cancer over and over again.”

Mai Nguyen’s words are loaded with sorrow as she speaks about her 17-year-old daughter, Taylor Tran, who is dealing with fertility concerns more than a decade after she survived late-stage cancer.

It’s easy to understand the exasperation Nguyen feels: Her daughter was diagnosed with stage 3 single-cell sarcoma of the kidney when she was 2 years old and was treated with intense chemotherapy and radiation. Now, the treatments that saved her life have put her into early menopause.

“It’s been traumatic,” Nguyen said. “We’ve tried so hard to allow Taylor to have a normal childhood and this feels like one more thing cancer has taken from her.”

Stories like Taylor’s inspired Seattle Children’s urologist Dr. Margarett Shnorhavorian to tackle a challenging area of research that was largely uncharted more than a decade ago. Since then, she’s helped change perspectives and protocols for fertility preservation in childhood cancer survivors. Read full post »

Aliyanna Overcomes the Odds, Celebrates Her Second Birthday with Her Care Team

From the first time Daisy Martinez heard the thumping of her baby’s heartbeat, she was in love. She always wanted to be a mother and hoped for a baby girl. She even had a name picked out: Aliyanna.

When doctors confirmed Martinez was having a baby girl, she was elated. Unfortunately, her joy was short-lived. During an ultrasound 25 weeks into her pregnancy, the ultrasound technician noticed something amiss. A large lump was growing on Aliyanna’s spine. Read full post »

Fine-Tuning CAR T-cell Immunotherapy to Benefit More Kids

Madeline Boese was one of the patients in Seattle Children’s PLAT-03 trial.

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy, which reprograms a child’s white blood cells so they can seek out and destroy cancer cells, is making a difference in children’s lives. Currently, Seattle Children’s has multiple trials open that could benefit children and young adults with relapsed or refractory cancers. In October, Seattle Children’s opened a new pediatric research facility, Building Cure, to accelerate discoveries such as immunotherapy.

Seattle Children’s researchers are continuing to realize the promise of CAR T-cell immunotherapy and improve outcomes in difficult to treat pediatric cancers. They are applying knowledge gained from ongoing clinical trials to study effects on the youngest patients, develop new interventions to prevent side effects and boost T-cell persistence, and to better understand resistance to therapy.

Research recently published in major scientific journals and presented at the 2019 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting contributes new insight guiding the evolution of the experimental therapy. Here, On the Pulse summarizes their findings. Read full post »

Global Clinical Trial Aims to Improve Therapies for Pediatric Acute Leukemia

Seattle Children’s will embark on a groundbreaking clinical trial that will potentially transform treatment methods for children with relapsed acute pediatric leukemia.

In collaboration with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), Dr. Todd Cooper, an oncologist and director of the Seattle Children’s High-Risk Leukemia Program, is part of a team leading the effort to launch a global precision medicine master clinical trial called the LLS Pediatric Acute Leukemia (PedAL) Initiative. The goal of the trial, which is part of The LLS Children’s Initiative: Cures and Care for Children, is to test multiple targeted therapies simultaneously at up to 200 clinical sites, including Seattle Children’s, worldwide.

Cooper, the Clinical Trial Lead, will oversee the master screening trial where children with newly diagnosed and relapsed acute leukemia can choose to have their clinical and biologic information included in an international database. This database will serve many purposes, including helping to determine an individual child’s eligibility for a number of targeted clinical trials. The data will also be used to uncover new targets for therapy and as a rich source for groundbreaking discoveries.

On the Pulse sat down with Cooper to discuss the specifics of the trial and how it will possibly revolutionize the types of cancer treatments available for children.

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Dealing With the Emotional Aftermath of a Cancer Diagnosis

Grace Blanchard was just three weeks away from graduating from college when she began feeling like something was off.

“It started with my handwriting,” Blanchard said. “I had always felt like I had good handwriting, so it was strange that it all of a sudden became messy, slanted and unreadable.”

Then there was the slurred speech and dizziness.

“At first I thought I had vertigo,” she said, “so I decided to see a neurologist to get an MRI.”

Once the results of the MRI scan were in, Blanchard received a call.

“They asked me to come into the clinic as quickly as possible, and that I should bring support,” she said. “They knew that after hearing, ‘you have a brain tumor the size of a golf ball on your cerebellum,’ I wouldn’t be able to listen to anything else.”

The following day, Blanchard flew from California, where she had been going to school, to Seattle, her hometown, for surgery to remove the tumor.

“I decided Seattle would be the best option, not only because I wanted to be with my family,” she said, “but also because of the fact that Seattle has the best hospitals for cancer treatment.”

Within 24 hours of flying into Seattle, Blanchard went to Seattle Children’s to get her tumor surgically removed.

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