SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio is one of a few cities across the country treating a new form of Leukemia.
Doctors are using a new drug to control and cure patients.
A local teen is showing great success with new treatment for this specific mutation of the disease.
Doctors say it's hard to tell how rare this subtype of Leukemia is right now because the mutation is so new.
Raven Labrador, a 15-year-old from Seguin, has this new subtype of Leukemia. It's called Philadelphia-Like Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
"The first thing I thought was a cancer that I would have and get really sick and die or something," Labrador said.
It's very similar in the way it acts compared to another very high-risk Leukemia.
Labrador is out of the hospital and finished with chemotherapy. She's feeling much better with the new treatment. Her mission now is to cheer on other kids in her shoes.
"I want to talk to other kids that are going through cancer and give them support," Labrador said. "Tell them the steps they're going to go through, what they are going to expect."
Before now, patients with a similar diagnosis to her's wouldn't respond to some of the standard therapies such as chemo.
Now, doctors say they're identifying more patients with the same mutation and they're able to alter their therapies to treat them.
"A large portion of them would not survive. I believe probably less than 20%...I'd like to say that we are in the day and age of personalized medicine because we actually can analyze patients, how they metabolize their medications, what specific mutations they have and provide specific therapies directed toward their specific disease," Dr. Chatchawin Assanasen, the Medical Director of the South Texas Pediatric Blood and Cancer Center at University Hospital said.
University Hospital has treated a handful of other patients with a similar diagnosis since this mutation was discovered four years ago.
"Beforehand we probably wouldn't have understood why some people are not responding to chemotherapy and chemotherapy protocols in a standard way," Assanasen said. "Now with a lot of these new genetic analyses, we can find specific reasons why they don't really respond very well."
Labrador is a part of the early group of patients who were studied for this new Leukemia subtype. Those findings are included in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Without research like that, without support like that, I would say we'd be very hard pressed to see the successes that we are in pediatric cancers," Assanasen said.
Coming up March 11, the St. Baldrick's Foundation will host a fundraising event benefiting children's cancer research. Volunteers for the foundation will show their support by shaving their heads bald, inspiring others to donate money toward research.
The fundraising event will be held at the Alamo Beer Company at 415 Burnet St. from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you're interested in participating and to learn more about the event, visit www.StBaldricks.org/events/Alamo2017.
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