Boy Diagnosed With Leukemia After Fracturing His Knee
- Joe Kallas-Lewis, 8, hurt his knee after slipping on a log, but after receiving treatment started to concern his parents with his frequent vomiting and rapid weight loss.
- Those symptoms were written off as the young boy responding to his traumatic fall, but after two months, doctors did a closer examination and diagnosed Joe with chronic myeloid leukemia. His parents have not told him he has cancer.
- Chronic myeloid leukemia is often diagnosed in older adults, and its symptoms can be similar to those people feel after a traumatic injury. This includes feeling rundown and tired, and weight loss. It is treatable but not curable.
Joe Kallar-Lewis hurt his knee after slipping on a log, but after receiving treatment started to concern his parents with his frequent vomiting and rapid weight loss.Read More
That is a disease that is often diagnosed in older adults, and its symptoms can be similar to the symptoms people feel after a traumatic injury.
This includes feeling rundown and tired, weight loss and night sweats.
It is not curable but very much treatable thanks to multiple medical breakthroughs over the past two decades.
The diagnosis came in February, and Joe has spent most of his time in the hospital since as he receives treatment.
“It’s awful. It’s just so hard going through it. There’s so much emotion to carry every day,” said his mother Dal.
“What he has got is incurable and it’s rare for someone of Joe’s age to get this. The one Joe’s got is a chronic illness so it is something he will just have.”
He has no idea that he has cancer, however, with his parents telling Straffordshire Live that they told their son he has “poor blood.”
“It’s been a long couple of years and he’s still not stable. Joe has been really good in himself, he’s a little trooper. It has almost become normal for him and he doesn’t really know any different, which is really sad,” explained his mother. “It’s all back and forth to the hospital. The medication he is on has brought the cancer down but not enough. It does have side effects and they are reviewing it but we haven’t got many options left.”
She went on to say that she finds herself crying once or twice a week still as she tries to cope with her son’s diagnosis.
COVID proved to be a bit of a blessing for the family they said because Joe had an experience like his friends and fellow students in that no one was in school. That is no longer the case, and the boy’s parents said getting Joe back to school is one of their top priorities.
“He does say that it gets him down and he feels different to everyone else. We have never told him he had cancer, just poorly blood,” revealed his mother. “A lot of the time he just ploughs through it.”
The family is still waiting for doctors to find a drug that will allow Joe to return back to as normal a life as possible, and in the interim his mom has decided to raise funds for cancer research so other parents might not have to experience the pain she and her family are going through with Joe.
It is also unclear if the family now plans to tell Joe about his diagnosis after sharing his story with the press.
What Is Chronic Myeloid Leukemia?
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia is caused by something called the Philadelphia chromosome, a genetic abnormality discovered in those who suffer from CML in a lab in Philadelphia.
“Having CML is like having your boiler in your house on in the summer. When it’s hot, the boiler should shut off, the thermostat should work, and you shouldn’t have any heat,” explained Dr. Richard Stone, director, translational research, Adult Leukemia Program at Dana Farber previously told Survivor Net.
“Just like if you’re not infected, your white cells should be normal, they shouldn’t go up, but if the white cells are going up for no darn good reason you probably have a broken thermostat in your white cells, and that’s what the Philadelphia chromosome is.”
The increased understanding of how that chromosome works has led to multiple breakthroughs in the treatment of CML over the past two decades, so much so that those living with the disease are no different from someone who does not have cancer.
“If you walk in the door with CML today, you have the same natural history as a person the same age as you that doesn’t have CML,” noted Dr. Stone.
“In other words, if it’s treated correctly, you don’t die of CML, you don’t need a stem cell transplant. So it’s a pretty, exciting situation.”
Categories of Leukemia
Leukemia is different from other types of cancer because it is not just broken down into stages of severity but into different categories based on the cells that grow into cancer cells and how quickly those cells grow. Leukemia means that one type of white blood cell is growing out of proportion to the others and taking up the body’s resources. A leukemia patient’s bone marrow will become filled with these cancer cells, and that could result in anemia, abnormally low levels of platelets, and white blood cells failing to fight off infections.
There are four basic categories doctors use to identify the different types of leukemia.
- Acute leukemia grows very quickly.
- Chronic leukemia grows more slowly, over several years.
- Lymphoid leukemia grows from lymphoid cells, which produce antibodies and protect against viruses.
- Myeloid leukemia grows from myeloid cells, which is the body’s first defense for bacteria.