Lacey is a 10-year-old who never stands still. She rollerblades, plays soccer and softball, and runs cross country too. When she’s not running on a track or field, she’s running after her family’s flock of chickens in their backyard. You can say that Lacey is about as active as a kid can be.
In August of 2021, Lacey’s life took an unexpected turn. During a routine checkup her pediatrician noticed that her growth had slowed dramatically, so she was referred to Corewell Health’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids to find out why.
A chest X-ray and CT scan revealed a tumor the size of a softball in Lacey’s chest that was pressing against her lungs. Her care team performed a biopsy and diagnosed Lacey with an inflammatory tumor that was cancerous. Needless to say, her family was shocked.
Pediatric oncologist Allison Close, MD, brought David Hoogstra, MD onto Lacey’s care team because of his knowledge in treating tumor mutations. He told Lacey’s family about the drugs specifically designed to target DNA changes in cancer cells like hers. Instead of surgery and a round of chemotherapy, which would slow Lacey down to a crawl, Dr. Hoogstra suggested a new approach, where she would only have to take a small oral chemotherapy pill each day.
In just two months of treatment, Lacey’s tumor had shrunk to half its size. She is continuing her treatment, and the hope is that, ideally, the tumor will go away completely. Her doctors are very satisfied and say that the medicine is working wonderfully. “The tumor is just melting away,” Dr. Hoogstra said. “This is the hope and promise of precision oncology.” For Team Lacey, the winning combination is understanding the genetic changes of her specific cancer and having access to the right drugs to effectively target it.
These days Lacey is busy playing softball with her friends and enjoying the warm weather in northern Michigan. “She may be one of the smaller players on the team,” said her mom, “but she sure runs fast and can throw the ball a long distance. She’s small but mighty.”