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Pediatric cancer research provides hope for children like Lakelyn

Update – August 28, 2023:

Lakelyn is cancer-free! She has been healthy and thriving after completing treatment in 2021. Her family understood the heartbreak of recurrence, so after two years of regular monitoring and check-ups, they decided to mark this important milestone by visiting Children’s Hospital of Michigan for Lakelyn to Ring the Bell in celebration of good health. She was surrounded by a support system including family members, friends, clinicians, doctors, and staff.

Lakelyn is now four-years-old, loves clothes, and is excited to make new friends at pre-school.

Original Article: September 1, 2020

In May 2019, three-month-old Lakelyn was rushed to Emergency at Children’s Hospital of Michigan after showing a variety of concerning symptoms. Following multiple tests, doctors discovered bleeding on the brain and she was immediately taken into surgery to relieve pressure.

Four days later, on May 14, 2019, Lakelyn underwent another surgery – this time it was six-hours long and revealed a cancerous tumor taking over more than 75% of her brain. She was diagnosed with Grade IV Glioblastoma, an often deadly type of brain cancer with low survival rates. She remained in the hospital for two-and-a-half months before beginning treatment.

For minority children like Lakelyn, the response to treatment is about 15% inferior compared to their counterparts. That is why The Children’s Foundation is supporting a multi-institutional research project to advance and improve brain cancer treatment for all children. By focusing on the genetic landscape of minority children, researchers hope to improve response rates to cancer treatment.

This research has helped guide Lakelyn’s treatment which included six rounds of chemotherapy. From July to November 2019, Lakelyn was hospitalized every three weeks for three days to undergo treatment. It was a long journey of tests and tubes, but by December 2019 Lakelyn was cancer-free.

For the next year, Lakelyn would receive an MRI every three months to monitor potential new developments. In July 2020, scans unfortunately detected another small developing tumor. At only 18 months old, Lakelyn underwent her second brain surgery – this time, the tumor was much smaller, sizing approximately two centimeters. She began a new oral chemotherapy in August.

“Lakelyn is a fighter. I am so proud of my daughter,” said Lakelyn’s mother, Tyler Peoples. “She is so smart and through everything, has kept a smile on her face. We are thankful to the doctors at Children’s Hospital of Michigan who have guided our way!”

Less than 4% of the research budget at the National Cancer Institute is allocated to childhood cancers. The result is an estimated gap of $30 million annually in childhood cancer funding. The Foundation has committed to a three-year grant to support the collaborative work at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Hurley Hospital of Flint, and Wayne State University.

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