March 14, 2008

About Leukemia


We've been learning a lot about Luca's disease in the last few days, and we thought we'd share what we've learned for anyone who's interested. We can't vouch for the accuracy or completeness of any this information, but here's a small summary of what we understand so far.

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. For some unknown reason, a gene called MLL attached itself to the 11th chromosome in one or a small number of Luca's white blood cells. At some point (and again for unknown reasons), this mutation prevented that cell or cells from receiving the instruction to stop dividing after a few days, like normal cells do. The affected cell began replicating itself uncontrollably.

Eventually, these problematic cells, called blast cells, became so numerous that they wouldn't allow normal blood cells - such as infection-fighting white blood cells, or clot-inducing platelets - room to grow inside the bone marrow. And of course, you really need those other cells. The immature blast cells reproduce very rapidly, spread through the blood stream, and quickly manifest themselves as tumors and skin legions.

In Luca's case, the leukemia first presented itself in an unusual fashion: as a collection of blast cells in the skin of his nose. The cancer was essentially masquerading as a straight-forward nose infection, with some expected swelling in the lymph nodes below. After many weeks of unsuccessful treatment, and with Luca's condition rapidly deteriorating, we finally arrived at an accurate diagnoses. We rushed Luca to Sloan-Kettering for immediate chemotherapy treatment.    

Leukemia is very curable. In another post we'll talk about the treatment plan. And as you can see, Luca doesn't seem too concerned about any of this.

Learn lots more about leukemia at The National Cancer Institute.


It's so nice to have you do all of the research for us. It makes our decision making so much easier!! Thanks.

We have a strong resemblance. Mommy and her friends think we look alot alike when I was younger. You can definately tell that we are family =). Both handsome little guys, you with your light eyes and me with my dark eyes. Now lets wait and see if you can beat this red hair? Mommy and Daddy don't have red hair but I do so you never know, Tata Jalileh's dominant red rules! =)
Love you Cuz!
Love my dark haired lil bro Cam too! Can't wait to meet you peanut.

Miss you guys a ton! Luca, you will get through this just like you have been. I miss you baby- can't wait to see you soon.
Love your Godmother-

The boys have been praying for you too.

Wishing you all the best. Praying every night for the three of you. Lovin these blogs. Keep it up. I want to hear about everything.
Ps.... I am sending you a pic of an Icon (Virgin Mary) that I took when in Jordan last year... I will include her story.

Hi Luca. I love you and hope you get well soon. I can't wait to see you!!!!


(in the arabic accent).... We love you and are praying each night that you get through this. We know you are a fighter. Greg and Manal- you are always in our thoughts and we love you both.
Khalo and Auntie

It's great to be able to continue to be updated. Baby Luca you're doing a great job fighting!!! You are all in our thoughts and prayers, we lite a candle at church for you after mass. Again, if there is anything we can do, please don't hesitate to ask.

All our love and prayers,
Michelle, Alex, Nicole, AJ, and Michael

Hi my sweet pea! Just thinking about you today. You are such a strong little guy and we love you very much!!

Holly, Andy & the boys

What a wonderful smile! Thank you. This is really helpful for all of us who are following Luca's progress each step of the way and want to know what he is going through. We miss you all.
Shannon & Josh

Greg and Manal and baby Luca, we send our heartfelt wishes for your continued strength and faith as you meet each new day. You are in our thought and prayers - Dave and Steve told us about baby Luca's illness. Thank you for your postings - what a wonderful hospital giving the best care for your precious son. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you both or your mom and dad. May God keep you in His care.

we are all thinking of you and candles were lit for Luca at mass this morning here in London.we love you loads.

I received this prayer this morning to pray for another friend of ours. I prayed for them and have changed the names to make it your prayer:

May the light of God surround Manal, Greg and baby Luca,
May the love of God enfold Manal, Greg and baby Luca
May the power of God protect Manal, Greg and baby Luca
May the presence of God watch over Manal, Greg and baby Luca
Wherever Manal, Greg and baby Luca are, God is and all is WELL.

Hey guys,

I've been following the blog all week. I'm so sorry to hear of the diagnosis, but it seems like Luca is doing great. Best wishes to all of you.


squeal, giggle, giggle, "Baby!!", giggle, giggle, squeal
(Mila sends all her love!)

Sweet little Luca,
You are a such beautiful baby. You are teaching the world about inner strength, faith, and love. Pretty impressive for a little boy who is only 3 months old! We are so proud of you!
Adelle & Erik

It is absolutely amazing how such a big soul fits this small body. Luca is a true fighter. I am his pediatrician, I know what he is going through. He would not be able to do it without such a strong support from his parents and the rest of his family. God bless you all.
Dr. Bialik.

Wow, it's so great to hear that Luca is fighting this. I guess he inherited Manal's spunk and Greg's determination. He is in my prayers, you all are. It's so great that you are keeping us all posted. I love you guys keep it up, you're doing great!


Thank you so much for filling us in on all the stages of Luca's progress. We continue to be amazed at all of your strength and courage. Please continue to know you are in our constant thoughts and prayers. We love you! Love,
Kelli, John and boys

It's no suprise to us that the doctor's are impressed with Luca's progress. He is a true fighter!

Dearest Luca, being deeply loved BY GOD will give you great strength, while having love FOR GOD will give you great courage.

You have both the Strength and the Courage to beat this! We love you BABY!!

Nabil, Irene, Rina & Tee

You are so courageous to be posting and keeping us updated everyday. May God's overpowering love continue to give you strength and peace.

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