Cancer Center

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Farah's Story

Leg pain for this adolescent girl led to diagnosis of pediatric diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

No one could figure out what was causing 12-year-old Farah Contractor's leg pain. After many doctor visits, lab tests and X-rays, she still had no answers.

The pain continued, off and on, for months. "It kept getting worse," says her mom, Ghazala. Farrah"By January, she had really severe leg pain that wasn't going away, and none of the medicines were helping."

After yet another visit to Farah's primary care doctor, Ghazala brought her daughter to the Emergency Department at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Over the next few days, Farah saw physicians in CHOP's Rheumatology and Oncology divisions, and underwent several more tests: X-rays, a CT scan, an MRI and a bone marrow biopsy. Within the week, she had a diagnosis, and a plan: Farah had diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. She would need to begin chemotherapy immediately.

The experts at the Cancer Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia were able to identify Farah's cancer so quickly because they have vast experience diagnosing and treating all types of childhood cancer. The center's team of more than 40 oncologists treats close to 800 new patients each year, working together to tailor treatments for individual patients and to ensure that each child receives the most cutting-edge care.

The first phase of Farah's chemotherapy treatments went well. Her leg pain went away and she had minimal side effects, but the next series of treatments was harder. Farah would get her chemotherapy treatment one week, and the next she would be back in the hospital for six or seven days, battling a fever. A week later, she would have another treatment. The cycle continued for months.

In June, Farah began her final phase of treatment. It marked the beginning of what would turn out to be an excellent summer. "She felt really good," says her mom. "She was really happy and did lots of normal things."

Farah had her last treatment in August and started eighth grade a few weeks later, enrolling in all honors classes. Her family has nothing but praise for her oncologist, Charles Bailey, M.D., Ph.D., and the other staff at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Everyone was very supportive and helpful and made everything a lot easier for us," says Ghazala. "Farah feels really comfortable and is really confident and that helps make everything go a lot smoother."

Learn more about our pediatric cancer treatment programs.

Read more pediatric cancer patient stories from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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