Kira Boucas, 13, can say “I beat cancer” in four languages: English, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. The budding linguist and aspiring make-up artist (at least for the moment) is happy to have cancer in the rear view mirror after a 2014 bone marrow transplant that cured her of acute lymphocytic leukemia, a disorder that begins in the body’s blood-forming cells.
When Kira was first diagnosed in January 2010, the Broward-based family immediately sought care at Nicklaus Children’s Cancer Center, the region’s largest provider of pediatric cancer care services.
“We appreciate that there is an entire team of caregivers, doctors, nurses and infusion specialists,” said Jorge Boucas, Kira’s father. “It was reassuring that they have so many to weigh in on her treatment and focus on what’s best for Kira.”
After a round of chemotherapy in early 2010 under the care of Dr. Guillermo DeAngulo, all seemed well with the upbeat preteen. Kira’s health was so solid that Jorge felt comfortable moving with her to Italy in 2012, where young Kira quickly absorbed the Italian language. In early 2013, the family relocated to California. It was there, after a follow up visit with an oncologist, that they received the unwelcome news that Kira’s cancer had returned.
Jorge didn’t hesitate. He quickly moved back to South Florida. “We wanted to return to Nicklaus Children’s and Dr. DeAngulo for help in planning the next phase of Kira’s care,” he said.
A plan was soon devised with consultation from Dr. Kamar Godder, Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program. Dr. Godder recommended that the child undergo a bone marrow transplant, which would provide her with a new immune system capable of producing healthy blood cells.
Kira was the ideal candidate. An unrelated bone marrow donor match was quickly found. And after treatment, Kira didn't experience any of the complications that can often occur while the body is rebuilding an immune system following a transplant.
What’s more, Kira has some great memories of her years in treatment. A highlight was the summer sleep-away camp for children who have received cancer treatment at Nicklaus Children’s. The medically supervised camp, sponsored by United Order True Sisters, provides fun activities along with opportunities for children to bond with others who have had similar medical experiences.
“Kira has stayed really positive throughout this experience,” Jorge recalls. “She inspires me every day.”