Addison Squibbs Fights Pediatric Cancer
Addison Squibbs, 16, plans his next shot
while playing pool in Children's Patricia
Crowne Teen Lounge
Just before his third baseball game of the season, 16-year-old Addison Squibbs discovered a lump under his right arm. East High School's "most valuable player" was supposed to focus on the season, but could instead focus only on the lump.
Addison and his family immediately consulted with Jay Markson, MD, partner, Children's Medical Center located in Denver. At first Dr. Markson suspected the lump was a hematoma, a blood clot reabsorbed by the body over time; however, the lump grew and the pain worsened, affecting his throwing arm and Addison's everyday life.
Dr. Markson arranged for Addison to have an MRI and blood tests at Children's Hospital Colorado. Once the results were received Addison saw an oncology physician at Children's the following day. He met with Stephen Hunger, MD, professor of pediatrics, director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD) at Children's, and the Ergen Family Chair in Pediatric Cancer.
Further testing showed that Addison had an aggressive tumor.
Dr. Hunger diagnosed Addison with Burkitt's lymphoma, an uncommon type of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma that generally affects children and adolescents. It is a highly aggressive cancer that can grow incredibly fast, sometimes literally doubling in size overnight.
"We were able to start treatment right away," said Dr. Hunger, "thanks to Dr. Markson's quick actions."
Thirty years ago advanced stage Burkitt's lymphoma was incurable. Today, more than 80 percent of children and adolescents can be cured.
Although Addison spent nearly six months undergoing powerful and intensive chemotherapy - 80-90% of the time spent in the hospital - he felt hopeful. Children's greatly emphasizes research efforts to fight cancer - efforts that can translate into better outcomes for patients, given the experience, education and knowledge of Children's medical staff.
"Children's Hospital Colorado is one of the 10 largest pediatric cancer hospitals in the country, and we treat more children and teenagers with cancer than any other hospital within 500 miles," said Dr. Hunger. "We are treating the older adolescent population differently than we did two decades ago."
A large national study conducted by the Children's Oncology Group and Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) and published in Blood in 2008, found that adolescents have a 30 percent higher absolute cure rate if treated in a pediatric oncology center.1
"The comprehensive nature of a pediatric center provides better multidisciplinary support for these patients, which translates to better outcomes," said Lia Gore, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and medical oncology and director of Experimental Therapeutics at Children's. "In our experience, patients feel more connected with their environment in a pediatric hospital."
The oncology program at Children's participates in several organized clinical research networks. One network is the Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapuetics Investigators' Consortium (POETIC), co-founded and led by Lia Gore, MD, in partnership with Tanya Trippet, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
POETIC consists of 10 leading pediatric oncology groups in the United States, including Children's. POETIC is developing new therapies that will become standard treatments of the future, just as Addison's once-experimental treatment for Burkitt's lymphoma is now considered the standard of care.
Because of Children's involvement in research consortiums such as POETIC, children and adolescents directly benefit from the hospital's specialization in treatment, its comprehensive approach and its established protocols for childhood cancer.
Children's CCBD considers clinical trial enrollment for every child with cancer, and CCBD physicians serve as national trial leaders for many of these studies.
Thanks to Children's CCBD, Addison completed his treatment just after Thanksgiving - cancer-free. "The cancer was gone, and everything looked good," said Addison. "I tried to stay positive the whole time, so I expected those results."
"Addison has been a trooper through the entire ordeal. His only worry and probable motivating force to get better was his desire to play East High School baseball once again," said Dr. Markson. "When I attended his 'cure' party, it brought tears to my eyes to see many of his teammates and coaches in attendance."
Addison is playing baseball once again, and involved with a different type of treatment, dedicating his time and offering encouragement to Children's seventh floor cancer patients.
"We have had many experiences with Children's. I'm proud of Addison for giving back to such a wonderful place." said Regina, Addison's mom. "As a whole, I can't think of a better place to be."