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Making the right decision for Lea

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lea sitting

Lea was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of blood cancer, in January 2013. She underwent treatment in her home country of Canada, which included a bone marrow transplant with her younger brother, Theo, as her donor.

But in October 2014, Lea’s parents, Stephanie and Jean-Francois, learned the cancer had come back.

smyrna in a hospital bed

Lea's parents and doctors determined that the best place for her to undergo a second transplant was at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

We knew St. Jude was doing a different type of transplant with natural killer cells.

Lea's mom, Stephanie


Families, like Lea's, will never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food.

smyrna with her mom and dad

Lea’s family arrived at St. Jude in January 2015.

“From the moment we arrived, we knew we made the best decision for Lea,” said Jean-Francois.

  1. lea with her dad

    There are so many resources available at St. Jude. We did not know what to expect, but we felt welcomed as soon as we arrived.

    Lea's mom, Stephanie

    Lea’s treatment included chemotherapy and a natural killer (NK) cell transplant, with Stephanie serving as her donor.

    NK cells are specialized immune cells that act as the immune system’s warriors—circulating in the body armed with proteins that can deliver a deadly one-two punch to viruses and cancer cells. 

    St. Jude was the first institution to show that an NK cell transplant using bone marrow donated by a parent may replace a sibling donor bone marrow transplant to prevent a relapse of standard-risk childhood AML.

    lea being examined by a staff member

    Lea, whose primary language is French, took English lessons at the St. Jude school.

    She also loved spending time in the arts and crafts room at Target House, where her family stayed while she was in treatment.

    lea being examined by a staff member

    Lea is a happy girl with an outgoing, expressive personality. She recently finished treatment and is home in Canada.

    She visits St. Jude for regular checkups.


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