How kids can support their friends with Leukemia

Selina M. Luger, MD
Last Modified: January 13, 2002


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Hi, my best friend is 14 and she was just recently diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and I feel so bad for her and I was just wondering what exactly it was, what is going to happen to her, Is she going to die?  


Selina M. Luger, MD, Director of the Leukemia Program and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow. It is usually treated with chemotherapy. The leukemia in the bone marrow prevents normal bone marrow from maturing and as a result people with leukemia have problems with infections, bleeding, fevers and fatigue. Treatment makes some of these worse at times. Fortunately treatment of ALL in children is usually very successful and often we can get rid of the leukemia, although the treatment takes a long time.

Let your friend know that you care and that you are there for her. She is going to go through some hard times (like losing her hair, and being sick to her stomach at times). She may not always want to have people around---don't take it personally. Just knowing there is someone she can talk to is helpful.