Monday, April 20, 2015

A word from Alex's oncologist

Pediatric oncologist Sara Tasian, M.D., shares what it's like working with children.

A word from Alex's oncologist

by Sarah Tasian, M.D.

It has been my honor and delight to be Alex’s oncologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I met Alex in May 2012 when he first presented to our Pediatric Oncology clinic, and he has handled his Burkitt lymphoma diagnosis and intensive treatment with amazing courage and calm.

Considering everything that Alex had already endured with his heart since he was an infant, it seemed like terrible luck that he was then diagnosed with lymphoma. He has had some significant and unexpected complications during his therapy, but has remained perpetually upbeat and positive despite long hospitalizations, extra medicines and many blood tests. You just have to meet Alex – he takes everything in stride.

Being a pediatric oncologist is a tremendously rewarding (although often tremendously tough) job.  We have made a great deal of progress in improving cure rates for children and young adults with cancer during the past few decades, primarily through scientific research and through treating patients on clinical trials. There is simply nothing better than seeing a patient in follow-up clinics after successfully getting him or her through intensive chemotherapy and into remission.

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Some children aren’t quite so lucky, unfortunately, and it is those patients who push us even harder to research and learn more about the biology of pediatric cancers so that we can eventually develop better treatments.

In addition to being a pediatric leukemia and lymphoma specialist in the clinic, I also am a high-risk childhood leukemia researcher. I love the multi-faceted and intellectually challenging nature of my job – learning about clinical problems in our patients, studying those problems in the lab, and hoping to translate our research findings into improved therapies for children back in the clinic.

I look forward to contributing to Alex's story.

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