Seven-year-old Justin Kramer loves to play baseball; he’s also king on the kickball court; and a collector of coveted Yu-Gi-Oh cards (the latest craze in the Pokemon phenomenon). Thanks to a stem cell transplant, he’s a happy, healthy child.
"He’s just like any seven-year-old," says his mom, Shirley Kramer. "You’d never know."
What you’d never know… is that just two years ago he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer that originates in the lymph nodes. The cancer quickly spread to his neck, chest and spleen.
Justin underwent chemotherapy, which made him increasingly tired. He missed school. He couldn’t play sports.
"Justin's disease was unusual in that it did not respond to 'standard chemotherapy,’ says Dr. Shalini Shenoy, associate director of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant Program. "We changed our treatment approach, and after 'second line' therapy proceeded with a stem cell transplant."
Justin received that transplant just six months after his diagnosis, and he has been in remission ever since.
The Kramers credit Dr. Shenoy with helping them to understand their options, walking them through the transplant process step by step, and taking inventive new approaches to controlling Justin’s pain.
"She doesn’t leave you until all your questions are answered," says Shirley Kramer. "She doesn’t rush things. She talks to the families. She’s just awesome with the kids."
And it appears Dr. Shenoy is equally impressed with Justin, who remains in remission 18 months after his transplant. "He has returned to school and resumed his normal lifestyle," says Dr. Shenoy. "He is a delight to care for, a very smart and articulate boy."
Justin is no longer concerned about Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He’s excited about starting the second grade. He’s focused on his next baseball game. And looks forward to spending time with friends.
"He’s very outgoing, fun-loving and mild-mannered," says Shirley Kramer. "He’s a really good kid."