Stories about: Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center

Madison’s journey with retinoblastoma: ‘Everything will be OK’

Girl with retinoblastoma after surgery to remove eye
Madison in 2018

It was New Year’s Eve, 2011, and Madison Garrett was a seemingly healthy 2 ½-year-old when she suffered a grand mal seizure at home. That night, at their local emergency room, Barbara and Tim Garrett were told that their daughter had instead a mild seizure as a result of a fever. They knew something wasn’t right, because their oldest daughter had experienced seizures.

On top of the seizure, Barbara was beginning to suspect something was wrong with Madison’s eye. Two days later they took her to their local pediatrician, but before they even left his office, Madison had another seizure. A second trip to the ER revealed that Madison had retinoblastoma, a rare childhood cancer of the eye.

Barbara fainted when she heard the diagnosis.

Read Full Story

Dodging a bullet: Lukas’ diagnosis uncovers his family’s predisposition to cancer

Boy with polyposis smiles with family
Lukas and his family

From a young age, Lukas Quinn’s life has centered around sports — playing them, following them and rooting for his favorite teams, the New York Giants and Syracuse University athletics. “He’s a real sports nut,” his mother Juli says with a laugh.

For the first seven years of his life, Lukas was a bundle of energy, active and playing sports without any health issues. So when Juli received a phone call from Lukas’s summer camp, explaining that he was locked in a bathroom with severe gastrointestinal issues, she was worried. “Lukas would not come out of the bathroom until I got there,” says Juli. “It was scary to see him in such distress.”

Little did the Quinns know that Lukas would soon be diagnosed with a medical condition that made him predisposed to develop cancer. And after a series of genetic tests, they would learn that his father and sister had the same condition.

Read Full Story

Pediatric leukemia: A guide for parents

8-year-old leukemia patient visits with her doctor
Dr. Leslie Lehmann and pediatric leukemia patient, Emma Duffin

What is leukemia?

Leukemia is a type of cancer that starts in early forms of white blood cells. White blood cells are cells that typically fight infections. Early forms of white blood cells live in bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside most bones in the body. When early white blood cells become leukemia (or cancer cells), they grow out of control and crowd out the normal young blood cells in the bone marrow. From there, the cancerous cells spread through the blood to other parts of the body.

Leukemia is either fast growing (acute) or slower growing (chronic). Almost all leukemia in children is acute. From most common to most rare, the four types of pediatric leukemia are: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML). ALL affects white blood cells called lymphocytes, whereas AML affects white blood cells called myeloid cells.

How is leukemia diagnosed?

The first test usually performed to diagnose leukemia is a complete blood count (CBC) to determine how many types of each blood cell are in the blood. Children with leukemia often do not have normal numbers of red blood cells and platelets.

Read Full Story

A valentine for Robbie

Family raising two boys - one with hemophilia and one without

Your smile is infectious — a picture of joy.

Clearly, you’re not a typical 3-year-old boy.

Whether cooking with Mommy, shooting hoops with Daddy,

climbing on Eddie or messing with Atty;

you find the fun in everything you do.

Read Full Story