How flu-like symptoms turned out to be an aggressive form of LEUKEMIA


A student has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer.

He had just returned from a semester abroad when she suffered from a fever of 40 degrees Celsius, headache and muscle pain.

The French and history student went to the hospital near her campus in Boston, Massachusetts, where doctors kept her overnight after discovering a low white blood cell count.

After her parents arrived, she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) – a fast-growing form of cancer that attacks white blood cells, which are crucial to the immune system.

Ms Prekeges – who said she probably only had “days to live” when she was diagnosed in February 2020 – is now in remission after multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She hopes to soon be able to work in Europe as a teacher or study a master’s degree.

Faye Prekeges, now 22, had just returned from a semester abroad when she suffered from a fever of 40 degrees Celsius, headache and muscle pain. She is pictured above with her mother and brother

Mrs. Prekeges, of Sun Valley, Idaho, is pictured above with her family.  She is now in remission from the cancer

Mrs. Prekeges, of Sun Valley, Idaho, is pictured above with her family. She is now in remission from the cancer

ALL is the most common cancer diagnosed in children, affecting approximately 3,000 young people aged 1 to 19 years each year.

It occurs when white blood cells begin to grow uncontrollably in the bone marrow before spreading to blood vessels and vital organs.

The cancer progresses quickly, with doctors saying patients can die within two weeks of symptoms appearing because the disease is so rapid.

As white blood cells multiply, they can clog blood vessels and vital organs, gradually causing the body to stop functioning.

Doctors say that about 90 percent of young people diagnosed with cancer live longer than five years after chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

A family member described her diagnosis and continued GoFundMe: “Things changed when Faye was back in Boston for her second semester.

“In February 2020, Faye – thinking she had the flu – took an Uber to Boston Medical Center because she had been sick for several days and her fever was 104F.

“Instead of the flu, she was diagnosed with (ALL).”

Mrs. Prekeges described the diagnosis Today: ‘It probably took me a few days to get to the hospital before I died.

‘ALL starts very quickly. By the time I got to the hospital, my bone marrow was 90 percent leukemia cells.”

Ms. Prekeges asked to be transferred for treatment to a hospital in Seattle, Washington, closer to her home in Sun Valley, Idaho.

But because of the Covid pandemic, doctors said she would have to stay in Boston for about a month while they arrange transportation.

Before the treatment, she received chemotherapy through an IV four times a week.

Doctors also began administering chemotherapy into her cerebrospinal fluid – the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord – after detecting cancer cells in it.

Ms Prekeges said the treatment sometimes made it look like she was having an aneurysm or a stroke.

“I felt really terrible because I was getting (chemotherapy) every day, and then my hair finally fell out completely,” she said.

“I had a neurological reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs, so there were three or four instances where it looked and sounded like I was having an aneurysm or a stroke, but I wasn’t.”

Ms. Prekeges was a competitive swimmer before she was diagnosed with blood cancer

Ms. Prekeges was a competitive swimmer before she was diagnosed with blood cancer

Doctors were eventually able to transfer her to Seattle to keep up with her chemotherapy regimen four times a week.

It was at that time that she learned that chemotherapy would likely rob her of her fertility because of the damage it would do to her ovaries.

To prevent this, doctors performed cryopreservation of ovarian tissue.

Here one of the ovaries is removed and the cortex of the ovaries – which contains the eggs – is cut out and cut into strips. These are then frozen.

At a later date, when she may want to have children, the strips can be implanted back into the body, causing them to release eggs.

Ms Prekeges is now in remission – meaning there is now no evidence of active cancer in her body.

But she won’t be declared cancer-free until 10 years have passed – because this is the delay doctors leave behind before making this assessment.

She is now studying French and history at the University of Washington in Seattle, after dropping out of Northeastern University in Boston.

She hopes to become a teaching assistant in Europe or pursue a master’s degree.