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Charles got in the car and raced to Madigan Army Medical Center, where they began chemotherapy right away. RuVonte’s white cell count was 187,000; they didn’t want to lose any time in treating his newly diagnosed T-cell leukemia.
Dad Shows Pride While Son Finds Stride in New Life with Leukemia Treatment
RuVonte McQueen is as cool a kid as his name makes him sound. The 15-year old attends high school outside Tacoma, WA, and is an all-around athlete, a songwriting rapper, and conscientious student. He finished ninth grade with nearly all As and Bs, even after missing most of the year’s classroom lessons.
When RuVonte had a pain in his side last summer while at track practice, he pushed through it. He thought it was just a cramp. By the time he got home, he was having chest pains. RuVonte went to bed that May night in 2010 determined he didn’t
Now more than a year later, RuVonte is still at the hospital at least once a week. “We have learned to appreciate the nights we get to sleep at home,” says Charles, who, while grateful on one hand, would also be very happy if he never had to see another “chair bed” again.
“RuVonte is such a great kid,” says Charles of his eldest son, who has been setting a positive example for his two younger brothers since before he was diagnosed with leukemia – and continues to do so. “You really look at the world a lot differently than you did before going through all this,” says Charles. “It really makes you appreciate people, relationships, time, love… and just enjoying and cherishing each second for what it is.”
Stephen Hunger, MD, Values Research Community’s Contributions
Stephen P. Hunger, MD, is committed to reaching the day when no family will lose a child to cancer. “The overwhelming majority of children with cancer are
need to go to the doctor. But by morning, still in pain, he and his mom, Nicole, headed to the emergency room.
A few hours later, RuVonte’s dad, Charles, received a phone call from his wife. “She was crying on the phone,” remembers Charles. “I asked her what was wrong and she did not say anything at first. I asked her again what was wrong and she said, ‘RuVonte has cancer!’ and hung up the phone.”
cured,” he says. “But not all children are, and the improvements we have made to date are not good enough for those patients and their families.”
A 20-year member of the Children’s Oncology Group and Chair of its acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) committee, Dr. Hunger is proud to have been part of the team who, in January 2011, completed a pivotal trial for children, adolescents, and young adults with newly diagnosed high-risk ALL. The study tested two ways to give the chemotherapy drug methotrexate, a key part of ALL therapy for decades. Run by Eric Larsen, MD, of the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, the study enrolled more than 2,500 patients over seven years and was closed early when results showed that giving high doses of methotrexate over 24 hours followed by “rescue” with a drug called leucovorin produced higher cure rates than giving lower doses of methotrexate without leucovorin. “This study changed the way we treat children with high-risk ALL,” says Dr. Hunger.
Dr. Hunger looks forward to enrolling patients in a new study for children with high-risk ALL this fall 2011. “None of these improvements would be possible without the participation of patients and their families in clinical trials and the hard work of the physicians, nurses, and other personnel at the more than 200 hospitals worldwide - trials only made possible by government grant support and philanthropic donations to help us carry these out,” he notes. “With recent federal budget reductions, it’s more important than ever to have philanthropic support to achieve our mission of curing and preventing children’s cancer.”
Stephen Hunger, MD Director, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Children’s Hospital Colorado Professor of Pediatrics,
University of Colorado School of Medicine.
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