Meet the Children: Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson

In 2012 when Alex was just 6 he started complaining of aches and a sore throat. His symptoms persisted, so his mother, Jamie, brought him to their family doctor. His doctor ran tests for strep throat and the flu; when the tests came back negative, they decided to run blood tests as a precaution.

The blood test results surprised everyone, as Alex showed signs of leukemia. His pediatrician told the family to head to the hospital immediately, so they traveled the three hours to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where Alex had more tests performed. The results confirmed his doctor’s fears, Alex had leukemia.

Alex started eight months of intensechemotherapy and 8 days of cranial radiationimmediately. His treatment will take more than 3 years, but he has been amazing throughout it all. “We are so inspired by his attitude,” explains Jamie. “He never complains about what is going on, just goes through treatment with a smile on his face.”

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Researcher Studies Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Research Aimed at Understanding Mechanistic Characterization of Tumor Initiating Cells

Liver cancer is rare in children and adolescents. There are two main types of childhood liver cancer: hepatoblastoma, a very rare kind of liver cancer usually found in children under 4; and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer in adolescents, young adults, and adults.

HCC is one of the most aggressive and difficult to treat cancers. Although major progress has been made in understanding HCC risk factors, the molecular mechanisms that cause HCC to begin and progress are poorly understood, particularly in children. Regardless of the cause, cancer stem cells (CSC) are known to play a role in the development, growth, and spread of cancer, as well as in the cancer becoming resistant to treatment or recurring.

Every cancerous tumor is believed to have begun from a single progenitor cell that has developed the ability to survive and grow in what might otherwise be abnormal circumstances. Debanjan Dhar, PhD at the University of California, San Diego is currently conducting a study to isolate and purify HCC stem/progenitor cells long before tumor nodules are visible.

In addition, Dr. Dhar has been awarded a two-year grant from CureSearch for Children’s Cancer to study the role of a specific protein, CD44, in the creation of HCC and to investigate the molecular mechanisms that are regulated by CD44 in the development of liver tumors.

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Understanding MRI’s

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a special scanning machine to take pictures of the inside of the body. The patient will lie still on the table inside the MRI machine while it takes pictures. There will be a rhythmic knocking sound during the scan, like a drumbeat. Some children are frightened by the sound. Parents are unable to stay in the same room during the test, however, a microphone and a mirror allow the parents and staff to always hear, see and talk to the patient.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Demonstration

The following video demonstrates a patient undergoing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as a part of cancer treatment. This video was designed to educate parents and caregivers by showing an actual MRI. Our intent with this video it to help you, and your child if you chose to show it to them, understand what will happen when your child has this procedure.



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Meet the Children: Easton Begoon

Easton-Web1In the Spring of 2011, Easton Begoon’s mom, Tara, noticed that Easton was sleeping a lot, running fevers, and seemed congested with trouble breathing. At his 2 year-old-appointment she voiced concern about bruising, but was told that he was just an active 2 year old boy that might be a little clumsy.

Fevers continued to pop up each week and the doctors ran some tests and put Easton on antibiotics for strep. His doctors thought that he would start feeling better over the weekend, but he didn’t get better. The next day he woke up with what she believed to be a rash, so Tara brought him back to the doctor. Once the doctor saw the “rash”, she ordered further testing. That “rash” was actually petechiae, or bruising under the skin due to extremely low platelets. Once the results were back, they were told that they had to go to the hospital immediately via ambulance.

When they got to the hospital, an oncologist told them the shocking news. Easton had leukemia. The oncologist told Tara that they had never seen someone with such low platelets or hemoglobin and such a high white blood cell count. They were amazed that Easton had made it through the weekend. Further testing revealed that Easton had a very rare form of leukemia called ETP ALL.

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Antipsychotic Drug Fights Cancer

(Oncology Nurse Advisor) – In a prime example of finding new uses for older drugs, studies in zebrafish show that a 50-year-old antipsychotic medication called perphenazine can actively combat the cells of a difficult-to-treat form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The drug works by turning on a cancer-suppressing enzyme called PP2A and causes malignant tumor cells to self-destruct.

The findings suggest that developing medications that activate PP2A, while avoiding the psychotropic effects of perphenazine, could help clinicians make much-needed headway against T-cell ALL (T-ALL), and perhaps other tumors as well.

The study was led by A. Thomas Look, MD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, and reported the in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Childhood Cancer Survivors a Growing Patient Population

But many general practitioners aren’t prepared to deal with them, survey finds

HealthDay News- Improved treatment of childhood cancer has led to an unprecedented health care problem, with primary care physicians unprepared to care for the special medical needs of adult cancer survivors, researchers report.

A survey of internists — primary care doctors for adults — found that most physicians were not comfortable caring for adult survivors of childhood cancer.

Most also were unfamiliar with the special needs these patients have because of their cancer treatment, according to findings published Jan. 6 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

For example, only 12 percent of the internists surveyed felt at least “somewhat familiar” with health screening guidelines for childhood cancer survivors.

“These patients need special health care throughout their lifetime, focused on screening and prevention,” said co-author Dr. Tara Henderson, director of the Childhood Cancer Survivors Center at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. “This tells us there’s a gap we need to address to improve the health of these patients.”

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Haven’s High Steppers High Step For Daughter

When Haven was diagnosed with Haven Anderson - Web2neuroblastoma in 2012, she was just 2 years old, and her family was shocked. The cancer was found in her adrenal gland and required 8 rounds ofchemotherapyradiation, MIBG therapy, and stem cell transplant. Haven is still recovering from the stem cell transplant, but is back at school and receives chemotherapy every three weeks. While she is doing well, her family knows that she still has a long road in front of her.

After Haven was diagnosed, her mother, Erin, knew that she wanted to do something to help other children like her daughter. They heard about the CureSearch Walk through their hospital, and the event seemed like the perfect fit. They joined the Rocky Mountain CureSearch Walk in 2012 and immersed themselves into fundraising.

They formed the team, Haven’s High Steppers, and recruited family and friends to help them raise essential funds for research. Erin tried to make fundraising fun, creating small competitions between her teammates. She and her friend Erik started a bet about who could raise the most. Erik won in 2012, but Erin beat him in 2013 and is hoping do so again this year.

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