Stories about: Dana-Farber/ Children’s Hospital Cancer Center

Five years after stem cell transplant complications, he’s an active teenager

Drew at 2014 Be the Match Walk in NYC. His stem cell donor lives in Germany.

“It’s eye-opening to realize how fragile life really is when you’re young.”

Drew D’Auteuil certainly knows whereof he speaks. He is a 16-year-old animal-loving, skiing, rowing, volleyball-playing, honor roll student and licensed driver with braces and a shock of red hair. In April 2010, five months after receiving a stem cell transplant to treat the blood disorder severe aplastic anemia, Drew suffered rare, life-threatening complications.

One day Drew was biking with a friend near his New Hampshire home, suffering little more than a mild cough. The next day he was in the intensive care unit at Boston Children’s Hospital, intubated because of respiratory failure. Soon other organs were failing, too. Quick action by ICU and transplant clinicians saved the boy’s life.

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The many faces of childhood cancer: Steven Clifford

Steven Clifford is an 18-year-old osteosarcoma survivor. A Boston native, he recently started college at the University of California, San Diego. Read Steven’s story then join Boston Children’s Hospital and ABC for a tweet chat on pediatric cancer, with Dr. Richard Besser today at 1 PM. Use the hash tag #abcDrBchat to join the conversation.

Steven

Life is made up of many difficult decisions. However, imagine my surprise when I had to make a tough and potentially life changing decision at the young age of 11. Up until then, I just was an average child who couldn’t wait to get out of school to play any sport imaginable with his friends.

All that came to a close when I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, in the tibia in my right leg. The innocent days of childhood were washed away, and suddenly I was faced with decisions that can be difficult for a grownup to make, never mind an 11-year-old kid.

One of the biggest choices came pretty early on: What would happen to my leg?  My doctor from Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC), Megan Anderson, MD, explained that I had two options to choose from when it came to surgery: either bone resection (removing the cancerous part of my tibia) or amputation of my leg.

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The many faces of childhood cancer: Fernando Morales

Fernando Morales is a student athlete. Last year he was sidelined from the life he knew after he was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma. Now done with treatment Fernando is back with his teammates, sporting a positive outlook and a new appreciation for life. This is his story. 

Fernando

As a soccer player and member of the track and field team at my high school, running is a big part of my life. But one morning I started getting shooting pains in my knee. All of a sudden walking and running became very difficult. In the blink of an eye I lost a big part of my identity, which hurt almost as much as my leg. Almost.

I saw a doctor who put me on a physical therapy regimen and took X-rays of my knee. When that didn’t seem to help I underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to see what the problem was and why it wasn’t getting better. The MRI results said it all: a tumor was growing in my right pelvis.

Less than a week later my parents and I were driving to the Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC). There were so many questions floating around my head. Would I need surgery? Would I ever play sports again? Was I going to live? If you compared my sanity to a dam, the pressure in my head was building towards dangerous levels. The walls were starting to crack.

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Surviving cancer takes more than medicine

Recent estimates from the American Cancer Society (ACS) put the number of cancer survivors living in the U.S. right now at about 13.7 million, and in the next decade that number should hit 18 million.

Many of those survivors, especially young patients, will face unique issues after cancer treatment: dealing with emotional and physical side effects, legal rights concerning health care and employment, reproduction issues, getting appropriate follow-up care and readjusting to school and social lives. Because younger patients have such special needs, Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC) has many programs to help.

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