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Courageous Dreams: Noah's Journey Through Leukemia

Father and son at the Padres game

Noah is a six-year-old boy with boundless energy and a heart full of dreams.

“Noah loves baseball, soccer and all things related to construction workers, firefighters and police officers,” shares his mom, Charlotte. “He wants to be all three professions when he grows up, so he’s going to be busy!”

Noah’s mom is an active-duty military member and his dad, Jason, recently transitioned to the reserves after serving for more than 11 years. Their busy household also includes Noah’s younger sisters: Savannah, an enthusiastic four-year-old, and Zoey, a vivacious two-year-old.

Life took an unexpected turn for Noah when, in December 2022, he was diagnosed with high-risk B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Noah’s treatment is centered at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, with Victor Wong, MD, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and an assistant clinical professor in pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine, taking the lead.

“High-risk B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, often seen in older children, is an aggressive form of leukemia which can be due to things like genetic abnormalities within the leukemia itself and associated with higher rates of relapse” says Dr. Wong. “It requires intense treatments upfront, which is mainly chemotherapy to achieve remission. For patients who do not achieve remission, they have a poorer prognosis and may need stem cell transplantation. To address some of the unique aspects of Noah’s condition, we partnered with a renowned pediatric research and treatment center on the east coast where he is enrolled on a clinical trial at Rady Children’s trying to tailor his treatment to his leukemia and avoid under or over-treatment.”

Noah is being treated at the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s, a leader in providing specialized cancer treatment and hematology services to children in San Diego. Despite facing complications and unexpected hospital stays, Noah’s family remains positive.

“We just got off of a six-day unscheduled inpatient stay,” says Charlotte. “We spent a lot of days inpatient, and he actually ended up having an anaphylactic reaction to one of his chemos. With that, we had to adjust his treatment protocol. It’s definitely a more intensive schedule, so we’ve been at Rady Children’s three days a week since May.”

Throughout this challenging time, Noah’s family found solace and support through the team at Rady Children’s. The medical staff, including doctors, nurses and child life specialists, became like a second family to them.

“He doesn’t look forward to the pokes or anything like that. But any of the nurses, the doctors, he is always so excited to see them,” Charlotte shared. “They really are a source of comfort and strength for him.”

As the family continues navigating this journey, Charlotte reflects on a valuable lesson about the power of community: “Embrace the help. Asking for help can be tough, but during difficult times, the support of a community is invaluable. It really does take a village.”