Johnny Chrisstopher's Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Battle
- Illusionist Criss Angel’s son, Johnny, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in 2015, and then after three years of treatment, he relapsed in 2019.
- Throughout his cancer journey, Johnny has shown immense strength and positivity. His mother recently posted that he’s “loving life everyday” despite ongoing treatments.
- ALL occurs when the bone marrow creates too many immature white blood cells, which are critical to the immune system since they fight infection.
In an Instagram post, Benson shared two heartwarming photos of Johnny sticking his tongue out somewhere in the desert. A recent immunoglobulin infusion treatment cut their trip to the desert short, but that didn’t stop Johnny from having fun with his family.
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“Our little superhero, loving life everyday,” Benson wrote. “He’s carefree and full of love. It’s been a weird couple of months.. but Johnny takes it like a superstar.”
She ended her caption with the sentiment that “life is beautiful” – an important reminder for everyone, whether they are dealing with cancer or not.
What is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)?
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, is a type of leukemia where the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 5,690 new cases of ALL will be diagnosed in the United States in 2021. The ACS also reports that the risk for developing ALL is highest in children younger than 5 years of age, with a slow decline in risk until the mid-20s. Then, the risk slowly rises again after age 50.
Dr. Olalekan Oluwole, a hematologist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, previously talked with SurvivorNet about ALL’s effect on the body and the type of treatments that work to fight it.
“ALL is a type of cancer that is very aggressive,” Dr. Oluwole told SurvivorNet. “It grows very fast. Within a few weeks, a few months, the person will start to feel very sick. And that’s why we will have to give it an equally aggressive type of treatment to break that cycle.”
Dr. Oluwole also says the leukemia often resides in the bone marrow, and because it is an abnormal growth, it just keeps dividing.
“It doesn’t follow rules, and it doesn’t stop,” he told SurvivorNet. “Not only that, because this is part of the immune system, the immune system is sorta like the police of the body. So those abnormal cells that have now become cancer, they have the ability to go to many places. They go into the blood, and they often go into the tissue or the lining around the brain.”
Navigating a child’s cancer diagnosis can be a tricky thing. But it is important to remember that children often possess an innate ability to see the light in the dark.
“Cancer kids are still kids,” Benson previously shared. “They are the brightest beams of light.”
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of tough days. Jane Wexler’s son has also battled ALL. In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, she explained that in addition to regular parent worries – having a child with cancer means living with a whole new world of anxieties.
“My husband and I will always have fear,” she said. “I don’t think we can ever let go of that. Just when he was OK, then he relapsed, and then he had the bone marrow transplant … so there’s always some sort of worry.”
Wexler admits she tries to live for each and every day, but its understandable that this does not always come easy.
“And I do try – you hear people say this – we do have to live each day and be thankful for what we have,” Wexler said. “And it’s hard to remember that when you’re caught up … it’s very hard to just sort of enjoy the moment, because we just don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”