Health Family Fall I Winter 2017 - Page 15

last word ACUTE PROMYELOCYTIC LEUKEMIA GoalReacher Innovative chemotherapy and bedside manner made a tough diagnosis bearable. By John Kiernan W h e n E l a i n e B a r d ou s si f i r s t no t ic e d her daughter’s bruises, she thought nothing of it. Hannah was an avid soccer player and only twelve years old. She was bound to get bangs and scrapes like any active kid her age. But it didn’t take long for Elaine to realize that some- thing was seriously wrong. “We were shopping for Winter Ball dresses, and I noticed the bruises were all over her body,” Elaine says. “When I took her to the doctor, he didn’t even hesitate. He told us to get bloodwork.” The results of the tests came in, and they were called back to Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Six hours after arriving, they got the diagnosis — acute promyelocytic leukemia (APML), a rare form of leukemia that halts the maturation of young white blood cells. “I was scared, and I cried for about ten min- utes,” says Hannah. “Then I looked around the room and said, ‘Okay let’s do this.’ My mom is really a nervous Nelly, and my aunt was there; she was pacing all around the room, so I was like, ‘I need to be strong so they can be strong.’” Hannah began treatment, a combination of a vitamin A derivative and arsenic. It was aggres- sive, but less aggressive than a full course of traditional chemotherapy. “A lot of cancers require cytotoxic chemotherapy, which means we use medicine that actually kills cells,” explains Hannah’s doctor Anjulika Chawla, MD. “But for Hannah’s treatment, for APML, there’s a different approach. You can actually convince these cells to grow up.” Throughout her treatment, Hannah wanted