October 19, 2017
Pediatric leukemia survivor gives back to MD Anderson at Southwest Airlines LUV Classic
BY Cynthia DeMarco
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 preparation for his stem cell transplant.
Ethan has shown no evidence of disease since December 2013. Today, he 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 charities, including the Children's Cancer Hospital.
“There are so many families who spend their life savings on cancer medication and treatment, in the hopes that treatment will allow them to live,” Ethan says. “Fundraising events like the Southwest LUV Classic are why MD Anderson is able to give financial aid scholarships to patients and families in need, saving many lives.”
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
TopicsChildhood Cancer Issues Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Leukemia Proton Therapy Stem Cell Transplantation Cellular Therapy Targeted Therapy Clinical Trials Chemotherapy
MD Anderson felt more like a temporary home than a hospital.