Posted: Jun 19, 2012 8:43 AM by NBC News (CC)
A new cancer drug is giving hope to some children with cancer and their parents.
Pam and John Witt called their 4 older children home to say goodbye to their youngest, Zach.
A relapse of the cancer lymphoma was overwhelming his little body.
Doctors offered more aggressive chemotherapy, but Zach remembers how sick it made him. "I was moving all around because I was so scared that I was dying...went home and i had to lie on the sofa like all day long because i was so dizzy," he said.
Instead, the Witt's chose to take part in a trial of the oral medication Crizotinib.
It works by turning off the abnormal alk gene. It fuels some cancers, but leaves healthy tissue unharmed.
"I think it's finally understanding what drives a cancer, what cancer is actually addicted to for it's growth and for it's survival," said Pediatric Oncologist Yael Mosse, M.D.
She and her team discovered that alk is present in some childhood lymphoma's and neuroblastoma's, the cancer that took the life of alex scott, whose lemonade foundation funded some of the science behind the discovery.
Zach started improving after just 2 days.
"It's like wow! Our boy is bouncing back," said Zach's father.
Another example, is two-year-old Edie Gilger. She was not expected to survive an advanced case of neuroblastoma, but she is now cancer free after taking the drug for six months.
The Witt's said even if doctors are not ready to call Zach cured, they feel blessed that his deadly cancer is in check.