Nothing compares to the heartbreak of a cancer diagnosis. Every year, 12.7 million people fall victim to bad news, of whom 7.6 million don’t make it. Though breakthroughs such as personalized vaccines have been gradual, nonprofits have been helping to ease the pain of chemo. And, of course, nothing beats the support of family and friends. To help recovering leukemia patient Bridget Kelly feel at home, hundreds of neighbors welcomed her back to school.
“Her classmates wanted to let her know, ‘You were out for 15 months, but we absolutely did not forget about you,” [said] Kristin Healy, a school parent who helped organize the gathering.
The 8-year-old, diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia in 2016, underwent chemotherapy for 88 days. Bridget’s then-3-year-old sister acted as donor for her stem cell transplant. For over a year, the bright second-grader caught up with studies at home. The massive welcoming committee was more than well-deserved.
“It was almost overwhelming,” Bridget’s mother, Megan Kelley [said]… “She felt so special and so welcomed after such a long and hard road.”
Understandably, surviving the trying condition is every patient’s ultimate goal. Life is just a little less bitter with a hand to hold.
For most patients battling cancer, chemotherapy is very much a love-hate relationship. We often hear it kills the bad cells but, unfortunately, also the good ones. Thanks to a successful trial, leukemia patients may see more luck with this gene-altering treatment.
A Food and Drug Administration panel opened a new era in medicine on Wednesday, unanimously recommending that the agency approve the first-ever treatment that genetically alters a patient’s own cells to fight cancer, transforming them into what scientists call “a living drug” that powerfully bolsters the immune system to shut down the disease.
Each patient receives a unique treatment. T-cells (or white blood cells) are “reprogrammed” and can destroy up to 100,000 cancer cells. One dose of the treatment has led to full recovery, as taken from the case of experimental patient Emily Whitehead. Of 63 patients who also received the treatment, 52 went into remission.
The next step… will be to determine “what we can combine it with and is there a way to use it in the future to treat patients with less disease, so that the immune system is in better shape and really able to fight.”
Patients who did not survive despite the treatment at least saw their lives prolonged. The treatment is now receiving FDA approval.
For cancer patients, the future is definitely seeing some sun. If it isn’t perfect, at least it’s brighter.