Kate's Brave New Friend
- Duchess Kate of Cambridge is publishing a photography book that captures life during COVID called Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020, out tomorrow.
- The Royal connected with a 5-year-old cancer patient over the phone who was featured in the book while separated from her father during chemotherapy treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
- A leading expert explains ALL, a type of blood and bone marrow cancer, to SurvivorNet.
Among the 100 subjects featured in the project with the National Portrait Gallery is Mila Sneddon, who was photographed kissing her father through a window while in chemotherapy treatment. The photo was chosen out of 31,000 submissions taken during the first lockdown in the UK.
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The 39-year-old royal’s endearing phone call with her brave little friend, age 4 at the time, was just released.
Mila greeted Middleton with a “Good morning, Your Royal Highness,” and the mom of three responded sweetly. “Good morning. Goodness me, you’re so polite Mila.” The video features the photo of the little girl, titled “Shielding Mila.” Her palm and face are pressed to the window while her daddy stands outside smiling at the little one, who is wearing a little leopard outfit.
Like many people across the world, Mila’s parents decided to separate during the pandemic to minimize the risk for their sick child.
“We took the decision to isolate separately before lockdown because we were very conscious about what was happening, certainly in Europe, and in the UK, at that time,” Lynda explained to Middleton. The photo was taken on the first day of their separation and when posted, it went viral.
Mila, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November 2019, talked about her dog “Mr. Cole” she liked to walk and her favorite color, pink.
‘I’ll have to make sure I try and find a pink dress,” Middleton responded. “Hopefully when, one day, hopefully, Mia, we’ll get to meet and then I’ll remember to wear my pink dress for you.” She unfortunately had to tell the little girl that she was not wearing a “princess” costume right now.
When Mila showed off her knowledge of knowing all three of Kate’s children’s names—Charlotte, George and Louis—Kate gave her a sweet update.
“Louis has gotten so big now, he’s very quick running around and he’s on his little scooter as well,” she said. “He’s very quick. I can’t keep up with him.’
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Kate and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge have been married since 2011 and just celebrated their 10-year anniversary on April 29. The son of the late Princess Diana met his wife in 2001 at St. Andrews in Scotland where they were both students and he later proposed in 2010.
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What is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
Dr. Olalekan Oluwole, a hematologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, sat down with SurvivorNet to talk about ALL, how it affects 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 us. “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.”
He says many times the leukemia is rested 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.”
“By the time somebody comes to us and they have ALL we already assume that it has gone everywhere in the body, and we have to treat them like that,” Dr. Oluwole says.
He says many patients present with fever or infections because the bone marrow has “failed in its ability to make other types of blood cells.”
Treatment for ALL
According to the American Cancer Society, the main treatment for children with ALL is chemotherapy, which is usually given in three phases.
- Induction, where the goal is to achieve remission
- Consolidation (also called intensification), where high doses of chemo are given to get any remaining cells left over
- Maintenance, where the goal is to keep the patient in remission and typically lasts two years
The most intense treatment is in the first few months, and the entire length of treatment lasts two to three years.
Patients are categorized into different risk groups and the intensity of treatment varies by risk group.