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
“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
He has shown no evidence of disease since December 2013. Today,
Ethan is a college freshman studying zoology. The 19-year-old pays
forward the care he received at MD
Anderson both by aiming to become a pediatric oncologist
himself some day and by participating in the recent Southwest Airlines® 32nd Annual LUV Classic. The
golf tournament was held on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, and benefited
several children’s hospitals, including MD Anderson.
“There are so many families who spend their life savings on cancer
medication and treatment, in the hopes that treatment will simply
allow them to live,” Ethan says. “Events like this are why MD Anderson is able to give financial aid
scholarships to patients and families in need, saving many lives.”
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