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Leukemia: True Survival Stories (Powerful Medicine)

Leukemia: True Survival Stories (Powerful Medicine)

By: Sandra Markle
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: September 2010
ISBN: 978-0822587002
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2010

Eleven-year-old Paul Luisi had come down with some “flulike symptoms” and had a stiff neck. It didn’t seem like much to worry about, but when he didn’t improve his mother took him back to the doctor to further investigate his symptoms. Likewise, little Bianca, came down with a simple case of tonsillitis. Her doctor gave her some medication to help improve her symptoms, but when she got worse her mother took her back to her doctor for a closer look. Both children were eventually diagnosed with leukemia. Paul had myelogenous leukemia and Bianca had lymphocytic leukemia.

Both of their families would soon learn that “leukemia is the name for different kinds of cancers that affect the body’s blood cells.” In this book you will learn many things about leukemia and you’ll get to follow both children through their treatment. A cancer is when certain types of cells multiply “out of control.” We have three kinds of blood cells: “red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.” In leukemia there are not enough blood cells (erythrocytes) and platelets (thrombocytes), yet there are “too many white blood cells” (leukocytes) as they have multiplied too quickly. You’ll learn about the function of each of these cells and what happens when production went awry in Paul and Bianca.

In order to be able to treat children easily, “Doctors often install a special device through the chest wall of a leukemia patient . . . [that] connects to one of the main veins leading into the heart.” Although treatment was different for each child, they both needed strong drug doses “to quickly wipe out the leukemic cells.” You’ll learn about some of the unpleasant side effects they had to endure, the goal of chemotherapy, why they needed transfusions, you’ll learn about blood typing, why people lose their hair during treatment, you’ll learn about the blood brain barrier, the three phases of chemotherapy, how long treatment is, you’ll learn about stem cell transplants, and you’ll get to see and learn about many other facets of the disease and its treatment. Best of all, you’ll get to see how Paul and Bianca are doing today!

This is a marvelously informative book about leukemia and two children who survived this life-threatening disease. The book is very informative and uses the proper terminology for things such as blood cells, something I always appreciate in a text of this nature. It is not alarmist, but rather upbeat and promising. There are photographs of when the children are undergoing treatment and/or are experiencing troublesome side effects. For example, there is a photograph of Bianca when she is suffering a terrible facial rash. In addition to the photographs of the children as they journey through this illness, there are some stunning microphotographs, interesting and informative sidebars, and a diagram of the skeletal system where red marrow can be found. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a list of support organizations, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This is an excellent resource to learn about leukemia, modern medical breakthroughs in the field, and how two children went through treatment and survived!

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