Erica was just four years old when pain in her left leg began to wake her up at night. After countless doctor visits and desperate for answers, her parents, Eric and Kathy, turned to Children’s Hospital Boston where the Dana Farber doctors quickly diagnosed her with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). After a month of chemotherapy, Dr. Lewis Silverman said that Erica would not be cured by standard ALL treatment, and her best hope of a cure would be a bone marrow transplant.
Erica's first bone marrow transplant took place in November, 2004. Erica returned to her life and was able to enjoy three and a half years of remission. September 2008 brought the devastating news of an ALL relapse. Two years of intensive chemotherapy and radiation followed but Erica had only 6 months of remission before a second relapse in 2011. Dr. Silverman again recommended a bone marrow transplant.
Erica’s second bone marrow transplant took place in September 2011 and achieved fourteen months of remission. Erica’s last relapse occurred in the spring of 2013. While low dose chemotherapy and radiation held the cancer at bay, years of toxic therapies had weakened Erica’s body and viral pneumonia took Erica’s life in December 2013.
While it is true that ALL cure rates have never been higher, there are ALL subtypes that are not currently curable, as evidenced by Erica’s case. In fact, relapsed ALL is still the leading cause of death among all forms of pediatric cancers.