Feb 10, 2022 Latest post:
Feb 18, 2022
On Friday May 28, 2021, Sherry Ann Torelli noticed some unexplained bruising on her son, Nick, and decided to take him to a local Urgent Care. This is where the trajectory of their lives shifted abruptly and unexpectedly. Urgent care sent them to the local hospital, where they sat for eight long hours before being told that Nick had to be seen by an Oncologist Pediatric Specialist. It was initially reported that his hemoglobin fell under six, his white blood cells were over 200,000, and his platelets were under 20,000.
Nick was then transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP). Once the family arrived at CHOP, they received devastating news that no one should ever have to hear, Nick had leukemia. The next day Nick was in surgery to insert a port for easy access to intravenous (IV) medication, received a bone marrow biopsy, and a lumbar puncture. The results from those tests confirmed that Nick was suffering from T Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. During this time, they also learned that Nick has a malformation in his heart, which would need to be treated after he received chemotherapy.
During Nick’s chemotherapy treatment, he remained in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He developed complications from the medication that was utilized to kill a large amount of his white blood cells, such as a tumor lysis. He remained in the ICU until his levels were maintained and Doctors could confirm that he would not need dialysis. Nick’s kidneys suffered as he had abnormal levels of electrolytes, potassium and calcium, which had to be stabilized under immediate emergent care. The stabilization process required Nick to have blood drawn every four hours while simultaneously receiving medications. These medications caused Nick’s blood sugar levels to rise, requiring him to receive insulin until the treatments would cease. He has had constant obstacles: infection, fevers, sores, and feeding tubes. After treatments, Nick was released in June, but required to spend a minimum of two full days per week at CHOP to avoid being readmitted into the ICU.
In July of 2021, Nick completed phase 1 of his treatment (induction). Phase 1 was awful for Nick due to all the complications. However, there is no new cancer growth in his bone marrow. He continues to heal and stabilize his levels in preparation for phase 2 (consolidation). During this phase, the chemotherapy will become much more aggressive to ensure success. Nick lost a considerable amount of weight during the previous phase, 56 pounds in three weeks, and there are overall concerns about his strength.
Currently, Nicholas recently finished phase 2 (consolidation) of his Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He remains nauseous and continues to have stomach issues. He very recently celebrated his 16th birthday. He has suffered malnourishment due to the intense amount of CHEMO. Nick also has had numerous blood and platelet transfusion due to his overall levels still being impacted. During phase 2, he spent 3 to 5 days per week, 5 to 10 hours per day, at CHOP’s clinic in Voorhees, NJ. His final phase has been prolonged at least a full month in an effort to allow his body to recover. His treatments will continue for the next two years with an end goal of October 2023, provided no new cancer cells form and there is no sign of relapse. Nick will also require follow up with his cardiologist to ensure the heart malformation is not causing any additional health risks.
Nick has lost his hair, which has been extremely difficult as a young man in high school. Nick has already struggled with mental health issues prior to his cancer diagnosis. He currently refuses to leave his house for other than medical treatments. He is currently too weak to walk around and it is unknown when he will be able to return to school.
In December, Nick will start another two months of aggressive treatments. In January of 2022 Nick was diagnosed with AVN from the long term use of steroids and is having a very difficult time walking around. He has some bone death caused by the steroids and will not be able to take steroids in the future.