Childhood leukemia survivor gives back to MD Anderson at Southwest Airlines LUV Classic

Ethan Tepera was only 13 years old when he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in October 2011. He’d been pale and feeling nauseated for several weeks. Then, the migraines began. “Initially, the pain was manageable,” Ethan says. “But eventually, it got so bad I couldn’t sleep or tolerate any light whatsoever.” Ethan’s mother took him to a pediatrician near their home in Dallas. That doctor discovered Ethan was anemic. Additional blood tests revealed he also had leukemia. “I was actually pretty relieved to find out,” Ethan says. “Because once the doctors knew what was wrong, we finally understood why I’d been having all these strange symptoms.” The move to MD Anderson Initially, Ethan sought treatment at a Dallas hospital, but after three different treatment plans failed to keep the leukemia from progressing, it became clear his family needed to try something else. Then, his parents heard about MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital from another patient’s family. Ethan discovered he could get a haplo-identical stem cell transplant here and participate in a clinical trial involving T-cell therapy. At the time, MD Anderson was one of the only hospitals where the clinical trial was available. “Once we visited MD Anderson for the first time, the expertise we saw in the doctors was enough to convince us that it was the right choice,” Ethan says. “And from a kid’s point of view, it felt more like a temporary home than a hospital.” No evidence of disease after leukemia treatment At MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, Ethan received high-dose chemotherapy and 12 rounds of proton therapy under Demetrios Petropoulos, M.D., in...