It’s the 4th of July and what it means to most of us is a day filled with barbeques, the shore, picnics, and of course fireworks.
But for my friend Jake it means another day in the transplantation unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) battling the horrendous effects of a peripheral stem cell transplant. There is even a medical term used for what Jake is enduring, it’s called Graph Versus Host Disease or GVHD. A simple acronym but to Jake and his beautiful mom Lori it is anything but simple.
Jake’s body is battling with the new blood cells that were recently transfused into his body. His body is reacting to a foreign invader and it is causing him all sorts of problems. This is not unusual at all and I have been told for this procedure a little GVHD is actually a good thing. But that is virtually impossible to explain to a 5 year old boy and his devoted mom.
You see, Jake has neuroblastoma and a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplants are a part of the current protocol for treating most childhood cancers. Unfortunately GVHD is at times a nasty and even life threatening by-product of this procedure.
For the past 6 weeks Jake and his parents (Lori & Jeff) have virtually been confined to Jake hospital room. First, Jake received the preparative regimen of high doses of chemotherapy. This high-dose treatment is designed to destroy all the diseased cells in Jake's body. The treatment also destroyed all the blood-forming cells in Jakes bone marrow to make room for the new cells and in the process completed wiped out his immune system. All this pain and with no guarantee that the transplant will work. It’s just one of the many horrific aspects of childhood cancer.
So, today when you’re with your families and friends celebrating our nation's birthday; stop for just a moment and think of Jake and the other 40,000 kids fighting for their lives.
These kids are such brave souls; they deserve all the love we can give them. In his honor and in memory of my son Brady who sacrificed his body battling cancer hug someone you love in tribute to these terrific kids. I miss you Bear…