Lightning Does Strike Twice
For me, it was cancer.
By Carlos Sandi
December 1 was a hard day for my family. It was the 15th anniversary of the day my daughter Althea died from a rare form of leukemia, just after her 2nd birthday.
For 7 years after that, my wife and I really believed that was the worst thing we would ever experience. Then in March 2013, our 4-year-old son Phineas was also diagnosed with leukemia.
When Althea got sick, I had the benefit of ignorance. I had no idea how harsh her treatments would be and while we were told upfront her chances weren’t great, we couldn’t really imagine that our baby would go through everything she did and die anyway.
When it happened to my son Phineas, I was sadly more informed. His diagnosis was terrifying, but we were hopeful because he had a different kind of leukemia, supposedly the “most curable” type.
That optimism faded fast.
Within the first month, it became clear that he wasn’t responding to treatment. Like his sister before him, his only option for a lasting cure was a bone marrow transplant, but we needed to find some way to get him into remission before a transplant would have any chance of success.
We were facing some very bad choices until we found a glimmer of hope in a clinical trial using CAR-T cells — a type of immunotherapy. When Phineas was offered a chance to participate, we jumped at the opportunity.
Thankfully, it worked.
Within 2 weeks of receiving those CAR-T cells, all evidence of cancer was gone. A month later, he got his transplant, which went better than we ever dared to hope. Today, Phineas is a perfectly healthy 13-year-old boy.
That kind of outcome would not have been possible without that clinical trial, which would not have been possible without the people who support the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Carlos continues to tell his story to help give kids a better outcome. To learn more about the mission of St. Baldrick’s, visit StBaldricks.org.