Our daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) just three weeks after we celebrated her 6th birthday. Concerned about a high fever, we took her to a pediatrician who ran some routine tests. The results, unfortunately, were nowhere near normal.
Katie’s white blood cell count was 148,000 and climbing. A normal white cell count for adults is 4,500 to 11,000. In children, the count can be slightly higher, but this was clearly beyond that. Further testing showed Katie had CML, a cancer of the blood typically found in adults. She was referred to F. Leonard Johnson, M.D., at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Johnson prescribed Gleevec, a targeted cancer pill developed by Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Katie began taking Gleevec in July 2001 and by February 2002 there was no detectable leukemia in her body. Gleevec works by targeting and turning off specific proteins in cancer cells that drive the growth of tumors while leaving healthy cells alone. Before Gleevec, only half of patients with CML survived their disease. Now, nearly 90 percent of people with CML survive.
Today Katie is 15, cancer-free, and living the life of a happy, healthy teenager.
To us, OHSU and the Knight Cancer Institute are integral parts of our daily lives and schedules because Katie is alive and cancer-free. We have experienced, first hand, the OHSU effect – what happens when healing, teaching, discovery and outreach come together at Oregon’s only academic health center. We are eternally grateful for that. We give in any way we can, with our time and by sharing our story, to help others like Katie. Please consider giving in support of the Knight Cancer Institute today! You’ll become part of the Knight’s Circle of Hope, a group of people joined together through their commitment to defeat cancer. The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s trailblazing work is an incredible statement about the power of philanthropy to improve people’s lives. Your support ensures its good work will continue.
Karen and Mark Knudson