Neuroblastoma accounts for six percent of all cancers in children and is deadly in kids under five. Many times, the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes before parents even notice a lump. Meet a 4-year-old boy who fought the disease, and is now helping other kids with it.
After two years of fighting neuroblastoma, Cashel can't get enough of everything one playground has to offer.
"He had chemo. He had stem cell transplant, which is high-dose chemo, too. They rescue it with their own stem cells," Cashel's mom, Alita Conoley-Wurzbach, said.
Plus, 12 rounds of radiation and immunotherapy. The cancer was first discovered as a lump on his neck, but the primary tumor was a grapefruit-sized one on his stomach.
"He had his primary tumor removed. That was a 14-hour surgery here at Texas Children's," Conoley-Wurzbach said.
This trip, Cashel donated his own blood cells to boost the research.
Andras Heczey, MD, a pediatric oncologist at Texas Children's Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine is looking at genetically engineering natural killer t-cells which help fight neuroblastoma.
"What if we genetically engineer t-cells to specifically attack the tumor cells, as well," Heczey said.
The clinical trial is evaluating a therapy called CMD-501, in which the patient's natural killer t-cells are genetically modified in the lab, to better attach to tumors. But for now, Cashel and his mom have a feeling of…
"Empowerment, because there is so little control you have as a parent with a sick child," Conoley-Wurzbach said.
A little guy who is now healthy and helping others beat this tough disease.
This is an approved research study that uses natural killer t-cells to fight neuroblastoma. Texas Children's Hospital in Houston is still recruiting participants. For more information, click here.
Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Field Producer; Larry Burns, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor.