No one would ever describe chemotherapy as easy. But a new option to complete a chemotherapy regimen at home has helped 11-year-old Alex Bogran simplify his life – and sleep in his own bed at night.

Child Health, News | one month ago

Chemotherapy at Home Makes Life a Little Easier

No one would ever describe chemotherapy as easy. But a new option to complete a chemotherapy regimen at home has helped 11-year-old Alex Bogran simplify his life – and sleep in his own bed at night. 

When you’re a child battling cancer, nothing seems easy. But for 11-year-old Alex Bogran, he now can get his life-saving treatment in a way that simplifies his life.

Over the past two months, Alex has been able to receive his chemotherapy on an outpatient basis. He still goes to Levine Children’s Hospital to get infusions of the special drugs that keep his bone cancer from returning. But he no longer has to stay overnight for as many as four days in a row.

That’s because he can now do part of his chemotherapy course at home. “I come to the infusion room and I get my chemo for four hours. And then they hook me up to a handy-dandy backpack with a big bag of fluids like salt water and potassium,” says Alex. “So I get to go home with the backpack and sleep in my bed.”

This has been a great benefit to the entire Bogran family. “Alex gets to spend so much more time with us now,” says his father, David.

Before this new arrangement, either David or his wife would have to spend the night in Alex’s hospital room. Although they must still take Alex back to LCH every morning, having him stay in his own bed at night has helped tremendously, says David.

Recognizing that a chemotherapy regimen can be difficult in many ways, the staff at LCH devised this outpatient option to address the needs of patients and their families.

“I think one of the things that differentiates us from other centers in the country is that our children who have solid tumors never really have to be admitted to the hospital for chemotherapy,” says Javier Oesterheld, MD, medical director for pediatric hematology, oncology, and blood and marrow transplantation and one of Alex’s physicians. “About two to three years ago, we really pioneered the ability to be at home. Our families love it.”

Nevertheless, Alex has had his struggles. “It’s been a lot of wear-and-tear over a long time,” says Alex, who will need about six more cycles of chemotherapy until next March. He will not be able to attend school this year; instead, teachers will visit him at home.

Alex’s journey began when he was playing basketball and banged knees with another player. His soreness never went away, and he was eventually referred to a specialist at LCH, who used an MRI to detect a small spot on Alex’s knee. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. This May, he had his knee replaced.

Throughout it all, Alex has shown remarkable optimism. Described by Dr. Oesterheld as “one of those 2 percent of kids who always says things are going well,” Alex has relied on his faith to see him through. “It’s a long process and you have to be patient,” says Alex.