When Travis Cuvelier was five years old in January of 2003 he was diagnosed Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Travis Cuvelier was treated at the Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center through The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Center. He received chemotherapy until April of 2006. Travis is now in remission but will continue to undergo testing.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) also termed acute lymphocytic leukemia is a type of cancer of the bone marrow (a spongy tissue in the bone where new blood cells are made) and blood. Cancer is a disease condition caused by an unusual proliferation of cells, leading to these cells growing out of control. Cancer can affect any part of the body, does not have a definite cause and often spreads to other areas of the body without early treatment. Lymphocytic leukemia is termed as Acute because of the rapid way the disease spreads and creates immature blood cells instead of creating mature cells. If not treated on time, Due to the quick spread of leukemia, the disease would be fatal within months of infection. The word Lymphocytic in acute lymphocytic leukemia means that it develops from immature lymphocytes—which is a type of white blood cell. When leukemia invades blood cells, they usually spread to other parts of the body which include the liver, central nervous system, spleen, lymph nodes. It should be noted that cancers that start in other organs of the body and spread to the bone marrow are not termed as leukemia. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia occurs in both adults and children, although it is most common in children. In adults, the probability of getting cured is reduced and might involve worse complications but in children, early treatment might confer a cure.
How does ALL Develop?
Stem cells form blood cells—white cells, red cells, and platelets. Lymphoblast, a stem cell that starts out as blast cells forms white blood cells which are of three major types.
- B lymphocytes: they help the body fight off infections through the production of antibodies. The antibodies help the immune system destroy viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
- T lymphocytes: they play different roles in the body and are of several types. Some T cells help to destroy cells directly while others assist other cells like the B cells in producing antibodies.
- Natural killer cells: they aid to fight off infection by attacking infected cells.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia develops from early stage lymphocyte cells in the developmental stage. ALL starts its development from either early B cells or T cells at different stages of maturity. Due to the changes in the lymphocyte, leukemia cells mature quickly and tend to survive longer than they should. This condition leads to a buildup of ALL cells in the bone marrow and in other organs of the body where they prevent other cells from functioning normally.
Signs and Symptoms of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
- Bone pain
- Frequent infections
- Pale skin
- Bleeding from the gums
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent or severe nosebleeds
- A general decrease in energy and fatigue.
Treatments of ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia)
Chemotherapy: this method includes the use of drugs to eliminate cancer cells and is utilized in adults and children.
Targeted drug therapy: this method is aimed towards targeting drugs at specific abnormalities in the cancer cells, e.g. The Philadelphia chromosome found in some people with ALL.
Radiation therapy: The use of x-rays is used to kill cancer cells.
Over the years, Travis Cuvelier has gained a strong knowledge about all aspects of ALL. Follow Travis on Quora to learn more about ALL as well as Relay for Life and other related subjects: https://www.quora.com/profile/Travis-Cuvelier-1.