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Fighting for a Future: Igor’s Story of Hope and Determination

Neuroblastoma in Kids: Igor’s Story
When an edema in Igor’s lung forced him to undergo surgery, a biopsy revealed he was afflicted with cancer. His mother, Alina, had only one motivation: “To save my child.” Since immunotherapy is unavailable in her native Ukraine, Alina chose to bring Igor to Sheba, explaining: “It was clear to us that the most advanced treatments are available here.”

Igor’s mother recalls the birth of her son as a challenging experience. He was hospitalized for about a month following respiratory failure requiring resuscitation. Fortunately, Igor grew up normally. “He is a wonderful boy, loves to play with animals and cars, and is very energetic,” describes his mother, Alina. 

However, upon graduating 1st grade in 2019, Igor started developing concerning symptoms. He had several dental appointments due to a toothache, his back started hurting, and he began experiencing body temperature fluctuations. His family was unsure of what was happening and had him undergo several tests. 

In one of these tests, an abnormal lymph node was discovered on Igor’s neck, but it was determined to be benign. “We were referred to the children’s hospital for a thorough examination, and many different antibiotics were prescribed without effect,” Alina recalls.

Soon after, edema in Igor’s lung forced him to undergo surgery, during which a biopsy was taken. It was then that the doctors discovered Igor was afflicted with cancer, and predicted a 50% chance of survival. “My brain could not accept this information. Why did this happen?” Alina Shares. “I had one motivation: to save my child, to cure him, and never let him suffer from this disease.” 

“We were sent to the Cancer Institute in Kyiv,” Alina recalls. “Igor underwent eight cycles of chemotherapy, including 21 days of high-dose chemotherapy. We were then told that Igor needed immunotherapy, which is not available in Ukraine. One option was to go to Belarus, but local physicians still had a relatively limited experience with immunotherapies. The other options were Israel and Germany. We eventually chose Israel when we discovered that the most advanced treatments were carried out at Sheba.” 

When we arrived at Sheba, it felt like coming home. I want to say to parents who find themselves in this situation: you must always persevere and never give up. As soon as I arrived, I realized there was hope for treatment. Milana, who coordinated Igor’s treatment, helped us resolve any issue related to the treatment, answering every question I had. The extensive array of technologies available at Sheba gives hope that children can be cured and live full lives.”

Doctors at Sheba diagnosed Igor with metastatic neuroblastoma and, following further tests administered a ninth cycle of high-dose chemotherapy. Thankfully, the tumor stopped growing after the treatment. After one last round of chemotherapy, Igor will start the long-awaited and much-needed immunotherapy. 

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