**Update August, 2014**
The Bone Marrow Transplant
8 Weeks ago, Gabriel received a bone marrow transplant. The transplant was a huge milestone, but involved a grueling process leading up to and coming out of it, and still 8 weeks later, Gabriel is fighting, albeit different obstacles.
Leading up to the transplant, Gabriel received the most intense chemo, radiation and other treatments to ensure that not one cancer cell remained and that all of his marrow was killed off. The objective of the transplant is that with none of his own, Gabriel's body would receive Jonah's marrow and it would 'engraft' or become his own. On June 6, Gabriel received Jonah's marrow. After 23 days with no marrow and no white blood cells, where he suffered infection, moderate to severe kidney failure, and other challenges, Gabriel engrafted. It was an exciting milestone! Later tests revealed that Gabriel's bone marrow was his brothers...good news!
Since engraftment, Gabriel has been feeling better and better and getting stronger. He is out of isolation, has had reunions with his siblings and shows signs of improvement everyday. His smile is as bright as ever. But, like everything with this fighter, the path is not linear but more 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Gabriel's kidneys continue to be monitored and are challenged, he has a lung infection that is concerning and still undiagnosed, and there are other symptoms that doctors are investigating and concerned about. While he feels well, Gabriel is not out of the woods.
Gabriel remains in the hospital and Nikki and Asaph continue to tag team coverage - one at home and one at Sick Kids. We are all hoping that the five Benuns are reunited under one roof soon and that Gabriel continues to get better and become stronger.
They still need our help!
This fundraiser was set up to support Nikki and Asaph and the entire Benun family financially and their need has not changed and if anything, has increased. They are still tag-teaming at the hospital and neither of them are working at this time. Help them support a full-time nanny and the additional childcare coverage they need. This will enable them to better focus on Gabriel's fight and not worry about the financial stress that comes with no fixed income.
Gabriel Ze'ev (Wolf) Benun was born on October 11, 2011. He was diagnosed with Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia** (ALL) almost exactly two year ago when he was only six months old. Ever since, he has been fighting this cancer and has gone through several very long chemo cycles. The first 4 cycles (Induction, Intensification, Re-Induction and Consolidation) included very intensive treatments in hospital where he stayed the entire time, except for a few rare home visits. Amazingly, after the first cycle he reached remission. On October 2nd, 2012, he was discharged home to continue treatments mostly as an outpatient.
99 days before the end of his treatment, he went for his scheduled clinic appointment and just before they were sent home they got the horrifying news that the doctors' had found 9 leukemia cells in the spinal fluid. A relapse :( The lousy news was the prognosis. He is now officially "hi-risk". The prognosis for survival is hovering around 10-20%. Not great. But not hopeless!
Since the relapse, Gabriel has been in the hospital 24/7, requiring chemo treatment after chemo treatment, all building to a bone marrow transplant planned for mid-may, where Gabriel's brother Jonah is going to be Gabriel's donor.
An Inspiring Family
Gabriel's family is remarkable. His parents, Asaph and Nikki, are truly inspirational and have maintained the most amazing attitude throughout this ordeal! For the past 90 days, they have split their time between the hospital and home - if Asaph is at the hospital, Nikki is at home or vice versa - where Gabriel's brother Jonah and sister Libby remain and cheer for their brother. During the first 20 months of Gabriel's fight, Asaph was able to continue working while Nikki managed treatments and tended to the other kids. Since February, neither Asaph nor Nikki has been working as the treatment and emotional nature of the battle has gotten to a new level. As a result, they have had to get a nanny while continuing to pay bills, mortgage, etc.
Help us Help Them!
This fundraiser is to support Nikki and Asaph and the entire Benun family financially - to allow them to support a full-time nanny and the additional childcare coverage they need. This will enable them to better focus on Gabriel's fight and not worry about the financial stress that comes with no fixed income.
**Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a form of leukemia, or cancer of the white blood cells characterized by excess lymphoblasts. Malignant, immature white blood cells continuously multiply and are overproduced in the bone marrow. ALL causes damage by crowding out normal cells in the bone marrow, and by spreading (infiltrating) to other organs. ALL is most common in childhood with a peak incidence at 2–5 years of age, and another peak in old age. "Infant ALL" is a group with distinct biological and clinical expression. Infant ALL represents about 2% of pediatric ALL cases and is much harder than childhood leukemia to treat.