For This 4 Year Old With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Fear of Infection Has Kept Him From Being a Kid

According to a story from, Jack Ruddock, aged four, had always been an endearing and good spirited child, but his life took a dramatic turn when he was hospitalized for a severe case of chicken pox. During this stay, him and his parents Gareth and Yasmin were hit with devastating news: he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer that affects the immune system.

About Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a type of blood cancer. The cells affected by this type of cancer are called lymphocytes, which are a form of white blood cell. This cancer is usually caused when a lymphocytes attains several mutations that affect the development of these blood cells. A number of different genetic mutations have been linked to the disease, but only when several appear at once does the risk for this cancer begin to rise. Other risk factors include radiation, certain types of chemotherapy, and a high birth weight. Symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia include weakness, fatigue, bone and joint pain, heavy bruising, anemia, loss of weight and appetite, swelling in the legs and abdomen, and testicular enlargement. Treatment may include chemo, radiation, biological therapy, and immunotherapy. Five year survival rate is poor for adults at just 35 percent. To learn more about acute lymphoblastic leukemia, click here.

Jack’s Story

Jack used to always love to swim, but just going out in public is a significant challenge for him now because of the increased risk of infection. The cancerous lymphocytes lose all of their capability to defend against infectious agents. The normal carefree days of childhood have been put on hold; he can’t go swimming, play on playgrounds, or make new friends.

Things are the worst from him when he enters a state of neutropenia (when the count of neutrophils, another type of white blood cell, gets abnormally low). His parents usually just keep him at home and do their best to avoid crowded spaces. When they do leave the house, they usually go to parks outside of the city so that he isn’t in such close proximity.

Diagnosis and treatment has been a traumatizing experience for Jack, who has been back and forth to the hospital countless times and wails in fear when maroon-uniformed hematologists enter the room. Gareth (Jack’s father) has started a fundraiser for CLIC Sargent, a childhood cancer charity that has helped support the family. If you would like to pitch in, click here.

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