KSON Going Gold: Dominic Leone

September 11, 2017

Today we celebrate Dominic who is now cancer free! Read his story from mom Larrilyn: 

In November 2014, at just 6 years old, Dominic was complaining of a headache and nausea.  Thinking he had a seasonal bug, his parents decided to keep him home from school on a Wednesday.  That evening, he seemed to recover, feeling much better.  The following day he went to school.  After spending the day at school, he looked fatigued, had dark circles under his eyes, and was once again complaining that his head hurt. He also began vomiting. On Friday morning Dominic visited his pediatrician where standard bloodwork was done. His family was happy to learn that everything looked good and there were no suspicious indicators that his heath was anything other than normal.  Both his pediatrician and his parents thought it was standard virus that needed to run its course.  

Over the weekend, he was excited and feeling well enough to play in his baseball game.  As the weekend was coming to an end everything seemed to change. He began vomiting again and complaining of head pain. It became clear to his mother that this was something other than a standard virus.  At that point, his mother placed a follow up call to his pediatrician.  His pediatrician realized something was not right, and requested that Dominic be taken to the ER for a CT right away.  

Once at the emergency room, a CT was performed and the Leone family heard the news that forever changed their lives.  Dominic’s parents describe getting the news that their son had a tumor like, “the surreal moment you see in the movies and hope that you and your loved ones never have to experience first-hand.”  The CT revealed a large mass on Dominic’s brain.  Alarmed by the findings, and not feeling equipped to treat Dominic without a Pediatric Neuro Surgeon on staff, Kaiser quickly decided to transfer Dominic to Rady's Children’s ICU. 

Once at Rady’s, Dominic received an MRI. It was decided that he would undergo surgery to biopsy the tumor and relieve the pressure in the brain that was causing his pain.  The biopsy came back inconclusive and the tumor was scheduled to be removed the following week.  Dominic’s family was thrilled to learn that the surgery was a success and that the surgeon’s aggressive approach led to 100% removal of the tumor!  After two surgeries and 12 nights at Rady’s Children’s Hospital Dominic was released. 

Dominic and his family patiently waited for news from Rady’s pathology department.  To the family’s disappointment, the results came back inconclusive and over the next 7 weeks his samples were sent to UCSD, John Hopkins and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for review.  All four reports indicated they were dealing with some variations of a Malignant Germ Cell Tumor, but the data was conflicting.  After a lot of uncertainty, his medical team determined that due to the complexity of Dominic’s tumor, an extremely aggressive treatment regimen to rid his body of cancer was necessary.  

Dominic endured six cycles of chemotherapy over the course of five months, followed by seven weeks of radiation – with a wider field and a higher dose to the tumor bed than patients would typically get.  

Dominic is now 2 years post treatment and cancer free!  He continues to be monitored very closely for any signs of tumor recurrence as well as any long-term side-effects.

These days he is enjoying 4th grade, playing his favorite sports, basketball and lacrosse, and actively coordinating his 3rd annual Toy Drive, so he can help others like him.  He has shown strength and resilience far beyond his years throughout this entire experience.  He and his family are deeply grateful for his continued health and the ongoing care he receives.