Leukemia: Josh's Story

By: Brady Kaucic and Mary Mamone

Case Study

Josh just turned 8 years old, and although he has been very healthy in the past, is starting to feel a little under the weather this fall. He noticed that when he wakes up in the morning he is covered with sweat and also has fevers frequently. After a he fell at soccer practice and bumped his knee, various bruises arose that were tender to the touch. Josh began losing weight suddenly, having shortness of breath, and his energy level dropped dramatically as the days went on. He began to notice tiny red spots on his body, and his mother even recognized swollen lymph nodes in his throat. Because all of Josh's symptoms were persistent, his parents took him to the doctor where they ran various tests. First Dr. Sarah did a physical examination of Josh and noticed that not only his lymph nodes were swollen, but also his spleen and liver. She also noted that Josh's complexion was very pale. Next Dr. Sarah drew some of Josh's blood, and after testing it, realized that he had very abnormal levels of white blood cells. With this information, the doctor was almost certain that the cause of his symptoms were leukemia but wanted to conduct one more test just to make sure. To conduct a bone marrow test, Dr. Sarah inserted a long needle into Josh's hipbone and collected a sample that was sent back to the lab. Unfortunately the results revealed the appearance of many leukemia cells. That afternoon, Dr. Sarah broke the news to Josh and his family, revealing that Josh does have Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). Fortunately Dr. Sarah caught the cancer early, and Josh is not considered to be a high risk leukemia patient.

Over the next few months Josh spent most of his time in the hospital. He received inthrathecal chemotherapy through spinal taps which placed anticancer drugs into the cerebrospinal fluid to prevent the spread of the cancer to his brain and spinal cord. Josh also was put on a moderate dosage of cyclophosphamide, which is injected into a vein in his arm for each treatment. The start of the chemotherapy was not easy for Josh, as he vomited after almost every treatment the first few weeks. In addition his eyes started getting very irritated and dry, and after his third week on the drug, Josh began to lose his hair. About two months into his treatment Josh received a stem cell transplant to help restore the ability for his bone marrow to produce blood. Finally after his long and hard battle, a year later Josh's ALL was determined to be in remission. He still had very frequent visits with Dr. Sarah to ensure that the cancer was gone, but Josh could finally be a kid again.

Works Cited

Kanwar, Vikramjit S. "Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia ." Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. WebMD, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/990113-overview>.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Leukemia." Definition. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 3 Oct. 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/leukemia/basics/definition/con-20024914>.

"Treatment of Children with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia." Treatment of Children with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. American Cancer Society, 03 Feb. 2013. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemiainchildren/overviewguide/childhood-leukemia-overview-treating-children-with-all>.