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

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

The space between heartache and happiness: Two sons with adrenoleukodystrophy

Paul and Liliana Rojas with their sons, Brandon and Brian, both of whom have adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).
The Rojas family at a recent visit to Boston Children’s.

When Paul and Liliana Rojas talk about their life, they describe it in one of two ways — the way it was before their sons, 10-year-old Brandon and 7-year-old Brian, were diagnosed with ALD, and the way it is after. Their story is one of heartbreak — but also hope, in the form of a new clinical trial.

Learn more about the results of the clinical trial, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that halted the progression of Brian’s ALD.

ALD is short for adrenoleukodystrophy, a debilitating brain disease that simply goes by its initials.

“Life before ALD was pure happiness without worries,” Paul says. “It was anything a parent could wish for — two boys with no medical issues, active, athletic, the healthiest boys ever.”

The two were inseparable. They played sports together in their hometown of Dover Plains, New York; idolized superheroes; danced like crazy; and dreamed of someday inventing video games. Brian was Brandon’s shadow.

Read Full Story