Alex Graden ’20 ran cross-country for his high school track team. In his senior year, he began noticing signs of fatigue and low immunity. He thought he was anemic, but blood tests confirmed that his white cell counts were extremely low. He had no idea what this meant, but his parents, both oncology pharmaceutical professionals, looked very concerned.
In December of 2015, Alex was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He was pulled out of school and taken to a UCLA satellite office in his hometown where he received a bone marrow biopsy with no anesthesia. His body went into shock due to the amount of pain he endured. After that procedure, he began treatment at UCLA with doctors Theodore Moore and Steve Jonas, both actively involved in stem cell transfection research targeting pediatric cancers.
Alex’s treatment included drugs, chemotherapy, and self-administered blood-thinning shots all of which took a major toll on his body and mind. He had to be home-schooled the second semester of his senior year while completing treatment. In his own words, Alex stated, “being confined to my house/hospital was just as hard to deal with as the actual treatment was.”
He made it through with the loving support of his entire school, team, family, and friends. “People would make dinner for us so my parents had one less thing to worry about, and my friends would send me gifts and take precious time out of their busy lives to visit me in the hospital or at home.” Support was what got me through my treatment,” said Alex.
Alex is now in remission but continues lighter maintenance treatments to prevent relapse. Although it is much harder, he is still running, interacting, and as his friends would say “just being Alex.” “I never have and never will let cancer stop me from doing something.” That includes helping raise money and awareness for childhood cancer. By launching a social media campaign, Alex and his family have helped raise thousands for this cause through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
If you would like to donate to this foundation in Alex’s name, please click the link below