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On June 1, 2012 I was admitted to U of MN Amplatz Children's Hospital because doctors suspected I had leukemia. On June 5, after further testing, I was officically diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). My first chemo started that evening. My treatment will last more than three years, the first six months being the most intense. I have a long journey but a good prognosis.
We encourage family and friends to please sign the guest book. Josh enjoys reading the entries.
Josh was a healthy athlete who had finished a successful high school hockey season and was in the midst of his high school baseball season when he went to the doctor with swollen lymph nodes. He was also very fatigued and was experiencing night sweats. A trip to the doctor forever changed his life. Never in a million years would we have thought this healthy robust teenager would be diagnosed with cancer - he rarely was sick. It was terrifying and life seemed so unfair. Why did it have to be Josh? He was just finishing up his junior of high school and was enjoying life to the fullest - when suddenly everything changed...
Josh completed the Induction phase of his treatment (the first 29 days of treatment). The treatment was harsh but he is left with about only .5% of leukemia in his system - which was hoped for and welcomed news. He received a week off from chemotherapy before he started his next phase of treatment so he could increase his blood counts and strengthen his immune system. He is thankfully off the prednisone for a few months.
On Thursday, July 12 he started the Consolidation phase of his treatment. Even though most of the cancer was killed in the Induction phase, without further chemotherapy Josh would quickly relapse. The goal of this therapy is to continue killing the remainder of leukemic cells and to stop new diseased cells from forming.
Josh is in a high risk group for reoccurence because of his age and his sex. Children over the age of 13 years and who are male are suggested to be part of clinical trial studies because of the increased risk of increase in reoccurence. We have decided to let Josh be part of a clinical trial study in hopes that he will not get the cancer back after his treatment. He will get the standard chemotherapy that is treated the same way throughout the country, plus additonal treatment and drugs that are part of this study to further the research to lower the risk of the cancer coming back.
He went weekly to Amplatz Children's hospital clinic for Lumbar punctures (spinal taps), chemotherapy, lab work, and possibility of receiving blood and/or platelets. When he was admitted into the hospital over a month ago, he had a central venous line (port) inserted into his chest. This is a catheter which is inserted to a large vein that passes into other large vessels. His chemo, blood, platelets, and other medicines get inserted into this port.
He had about 6 or 7 hospital stays throughout this Consolidation phase.
At home Josh orally takes Cytoxan (a form of chemo), antibiotics, anti-fungal medication, and anti-nausea medication daily. For the next two months he will give himself a shot in the stomach three times a week. The injection is a form of chemotherapy called ARAC (Cytarabine).
His immune system was very low so he could not be exposed to crowds of people and must keeps his hands clean to prevent the spread of germs. We will need to call the clinic/hospital any time he has a fever that is over 100.5 degrees. He gets fatigued and nauseated often. His hair has fell out.
His exercise was limited to walking and riding a stationery bike while in this stage.
Update (04/22/2013): Josh is almost finished the Delayed Intensification and interim maintenance phase of his treatment. This was a very rough part of his treatment for him. He was hospitalized a few times from fevers, infections, and side effects from the high dosages of Chemotherapy. He was able to skate and workout with his high school hockey team when he felt up to it. Though his hair grew back for a month or two, he lost it again during this stage.He has been very fatigued, achey, lost weight, and has been more nauseated with this phase. He has not gone to school at all during this phase.
In two weeks he will will start the Maintenance phase of his treatment which will last for the next 2 1/2 years. It involves lower-does chemotherapy sessions with appointments 1 to 2 times a month. This portion of the treatment is less toxic and is usually much easier to tolerate then the induction and consolidation phases.Most patients will receive oral doses of mercaptopuine (6-MP) every evening and weekly oral methetrexate. In addition, other drugs such as vincristinine, prednisone, or dexamethasone are given periodically.Most protocals also give intrathecal methotresate during maintenance therapy. During maintenance, Josh will be monitored for effects on blood counts and drug related toxicities.
He will be able to live an active lifestyle during the maintenance phase. He should be able to return to all sports and school.
UPDATE: Unfortunately Josh's life was cut short on October 7, 2015. He achieved the most possible out his 19+ years. His strength and endurance were epic. Josh's mind could handle all the treatment that was given to him - but his body could not. He was a true warrior throughout his cancer journey. He is going to be "forever a teenager". Below is a partial statement from his obituary.
Age 19 of Vadnais Heights Welcomed into Heaven October 7, 2014 Due to complications of leukemia treatment. Survived by parents, Marty and Luanne; brothers, Matt and Alex; grandfather, Bill Lavalle; special friend, Hannah; aunts, uncles, cousins and many, many friends. Preceded in death by grandparents, Joanne and Lewis Lisson and Jeanne Lavalle. Born October 15, 1994. Josh was a 2013 graduate of Mounds View HS where he was a three-sport athlete and was a captain of his hockey team. Current student at the U of MN and a member of Pi Kappa Alpha. Visitation 4-8PM Friday, October 10 at HOLCOMB-HENRY-BOOM-PURCELL, 515 Hwy 96 West, Shoreview. Mass of Christian Burial 10AM (visitation begins at 9AM) Saturday, October 11, 2014 at ST ODILIA CATHOLIC CHURCH, 3495 N. Victoria, Shoreview. Thanks to U of MN Children's Hospital, especially 5th floor, ICU Unit and Journey Clinic. Thanks also to family, friends and our surrounding community for your love and support. Memorials preferred to the U of MN Children's Hospital and Wishes & More - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/twincities/obituary.aspx?n=joshua-lewis-lavalle&pid=172742532&fhid=...