Six-year-old Grant McTaggart runs the diamond of a local baseball field, imagining he’s the next Houston Astros All-Star. With the big leagues on his mind and a smile on his face, there are no signs of his 2009 leukemia diagnosis.
Grant’s story began on a family vacation when his parents, Melanie and David, noticed his distended stomach. A mother’s intuition said something just wasn’t right, and she and her husband took him for testing at a North Texas hospital. There, they discovered a low platelet count and an inflamed spleen. Grants grandfather, a pathologist, took one look at his grandson’s cells and knew it was bad news.
The very rare Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia was the official diagnosis.
The family traveled to Houston and began treatment at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Grant was able to benefit from a new drug through a clinical trial that was at that time available only at Texas Children’s. The drug, Gleevac, had been shown to increase the survival rate in children with this form of leukemia at from 20% to 75%.
Thanks to this new drug, more than two years of chemotherapy, the support of family and friends, and the expertise and care of the Cancer Center’s medical team, Grant received his final chemotherapy treatment in August 2012. Today, he is cancer free.
Grant is not alone. Today, 86% of children in this country survive various forms of leukemia—allowing their parents to spend a lot more time watching them play tag.