Guest blogger Brynne Mulloy talks about her daughter’s milestone birthday. Eevie was given a 17 percent chance of reaching age 2 after being diagnosed with congenital acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but she did it. The fight isn’t over yet but the family is excited to begin a new – and hopefully brighter - chapter alongside their “Life Warrior.”
A second birthday card. Not something anyone really thinks about too much I suppose. I, on the other hand, used to stare at them. I would walk down the card aisle at Target and just stare at them. I had to buy one for my second cousin once. I cried all the way through the checkout line. I guess my brain never let me believe we would get there; my heart told me otherwise.
I guess we should all listen to our hearts more. Eevie has reached "the big two" and we feel dumbfounded, blissful, and very humbled. I thought we were lucky when we reached one (so lucky in fact that after that milestone, I found myself engaging in corny superstitious rituals to generate more luck). It certainly wasn't all luck that brought us to this day. Eevie has irrefutably lived up to the meaning of her name, "life warrior." She tends to do everything opposite of what the doctors say. They said she would not make it to two, she did. They said that the high dose chemotherapy would likely have major effects on her organs, it didn't.
Guest blogger Christopher Falzone looks back on his son’s leukemia diagnosis and reflects on how the family made it through the past three years.
Three (now seemingly very long) years ago on Columbus Day weekend of 2012, our family’s lives changed forever. Just a week after the 4th birthday of my son, Alex, he became extremely lethargic with severe hip pain and a fever that wouldn't subside.
At the time, we had no reason to think he was battling anything other than the flu, a virus or, at worst, a bone infection. But, going on a mother’s instinct that, in hindsight, was spot on, my wife, Lynn, asked me to take him to the emergency room at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. Over the course of the next 24 hours, a battery of tests ensued that culminated in our living a parent’s worst nightmare – we were told our child had cancer.
Having no previous experience with the disease or any concrete understanding as to its treatment, a sense of shock and panic washed over us upon first hearing the diagnosis. Lynn’s legs gave out requiring me to catch her before she hit the floor and I blurted out: “What does this mean … is this a death sentence?
David Weinstock, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, is looking to identify new targets for therapies for patients with leukemia and lymphoma. His latest research, funded through a Specialized Center of Research grant from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, focuses on T-cell lymphomas.
An associate professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Weinstock received a grant in 2002 through LLS’s Career Development Program designed to help young scientists. That early work explored abnormal cell growth and chromosome translocations that can progress to blood cancer. Then last year he received a scholar award to study how gene mutations promote the growth of follicular lymphoma.
“That support has played a significant role in my career development,” Weinstock said. “LLS funding gives researchers the flexibility to expand their research into innovative areas for which there might otherwise be limited financial resources.”
He’s since moved on to lead a prestigious $5 million Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) grant, LLS’s most ambitious funding program. The five-year project will enable he and his colleagues from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital to test different targeted approaches for treating patients with T-cell lymphomas, for which there are currently very few good options.
Recently, Weinstock took some time to answer a few questions about his current research.