Johnny Christopher & Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
- Criss Angel’s son, Johnny Christopher, has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) — a cancer of the bone marrow — for nearly 5 years
- ALL is caused when the bone marrow creates too many immature white blood cells, which are critical to the immune system since they fight infection
- ALL is one of the most common cancers in children, and chemotherapy and immunotherapy are typically used for treatment
Johnny, now 6, was a little over one-year-old when diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in 2015, and underwent treatment for three years before the cancer went into remission. However, in December 2019, Angel shared that Johnny’s cancer had returned and he immediately started undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Throughout Johnny’s cancer journey, the family has been extremely honest with how they’re handling Johnny’s routine, and Shaunyl Benson is giving fans an inside, behind the scenes, look into what it’s truly like.Read More
“This motherhood thing really covers a lot of different careers, so proud of our superstar,” Benson wrote. “It’s almost been 5 years since his initial diagnosis and he takes it all like a champion.”
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Haven’t updated you guys in a while on Johnny’s progress. We’ve got about 6 weeks until we go into maintenance and we can’t wait! This video is from Johnny’s last day of Blincyto! The nurses showed me how to de-access him at home, so that we didn’t have to wait around all day at the clinic. This motherhood thing really covers a lot of different careers 😂 so proud of our superstar. It’s almost been 5 years since his initial diagnosis and he takes it all like a champion. 2 more weeks of this chemo cycle before we start immune therapy again! Bring, it, on! ♥️ @crissangel
Both Angel and Benson have been extremely transparent about Johnny’s cancer journey, and have used their platforms to not only spread awareness concerning pediatric cancer but create a charity dedicated to raising money for research.
Navigating an ALL Diagnosis
ALL is a cancer of the bone marrow, where the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell. These blood cells are critical to the immune system, as they help fight infections by attacking bacteria, germs, and viruses. Signs of ALL typically include fever as well as unexplained bruising, and the disease is diagnosed through bone marrow and blood tests. Leukemia is the most common cancer diagnosed in young children, and three out of four pediatric cancer patients will be diagnosed with ALL.
During Johnny’s treatment, he’s been undergoing immunotherapy — a treatment method which has shown historic promise. Immunotherapy drugs harness a patient’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells, and in the video Benson shares that he’s completing his last round of Blincyto which is an FDA approved immunotherapy drug used to treat some types of ALL. The medication
The Chemotherapy Experience for ALL: A Survivor’s Experience
Chemotherapy is no walk in the park, just take it from pediatric cancer survivor Justice Wexler who battled ALL himself. While he’s grateful that he was able to overcome the disease, he admitted chemo was an extremely difficult experience to get through. By undergoing treatment, he’s now dealing with heart disease as a side effect.
“He’s a cancer survivor, but now we’re dealing with heart disease,” Justice’s mother, Jayne Wexler, tells SurvivorNet. “This is because of the chemo. Chemo induced cardiomyopathy.”
Despite the side effects from chemo, and the experience of chemo itself, Justice says he feels stronger because of his cancer journey and encourages all children going cancer to not be ashamed if they’re facing a diagnosis.
“If you’re ashamed of what you’ve been through, don’t be,” Justice says. “It makes you stronger as a person. While I would trade what happened to me in an instant, like if I’m failing in school, whatever, it’s like, I beat cancer.”