DMC Pediatric Cancer Specialists treat a reare teenage cancer, Burkitt's Lymphoma.
It was a diagnosis 15-year-old Drew Pointe never saw coming. An active, healthy young man, Drew began suffering from abdominal pain and fatigue. A large polyp was discovered in his intestine, and 15 inches of his colon were surgically removed. But the biggest surprise came when the polyp’s biopsy revealed a cancer: Burkitt’s Lymphoma, and extremely rare and fast-growing form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The family was stunned. Drew was a dedicated Lacrosse player, and hoped to be back on the field that spring. His parents seized on that passion to keep him focused through this journey.
Drew’s fighting spirit impressed Dr. Jeffrey Taub, Chief of Oncology at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Taub is a cancer survivor himself, who was treated at Children’s as a teenager. Drew’s mom Lisa knew her son would get the best care from Dr. taub and his team of experts, and she was right. Dr. Taub rushed Drew for an appointment the day after his diagnosis.
“Burkitt’s Lymphoma can sometimes double in 24 hours.” says Dr. Taub. “Some cancers, especially in adults, are slow-growing, taking months and months. With Burkitt’s Lymphoma, you do not have months – we measure its growth in weeks or days.”
“We see approximately three or four cases a year here at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan. And, because we’re the largest pediatric oncology center in Michigan, we’ll see more cases than any other institution. So it’s not just opening a textbook and looking at what chemotherapy drugs we have to treat them with. You really have a group of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers – a whole team that we have here, to treat the patient.”
“Dr. Taubn spent so much time getting to know Drew and making it personal,” says Lisa. “He took so much time to educate us on the illness and what was going to take place and what we could expect. I had complete confidence. It was a huge relief.”
Drew began an immediate, aggressive course of chemotherapy that lasted four months. He spent 45 days in the hospital during that time. He worked at home with a visiting teacher to help keep up his studies. He was unable to play sports – being sidelined drove his passion to heal. Through all the trials of cancer – hair loss, hospital stays, weight gain, fatigue, loss of appetite, sickness – Dr. Taub helped keep Drew’s attitude positive and strong. Drew’s community rallied around him, holding fundraisers and pep rallies in his honor.
The rigorous chemotherapy completed, Drew was now focused on healing his body and getting back to normal. He eventually returned to the field, and even took up hockey, and started coaching a little league football team, all while maintaining his grades and holding down part-time jobs. Now, he wants to go into Pediatric Oncology, following in Dr. Taub’s footsteps.
Today, Drew is cancer-free. He will need to monitor his health for years to come, but he credits his cancer with opening up his eyes to appreciate every single day.
“I’m happy to be alive,” says Drew. “We all have rough days, but we’re still here. And more than anything, cancer has given me a purpose for my life.”
To find a DMC Pediatric Specialist, call 888-DMC-2500.