Boyle set to come home

Posted: Wednesday, December 27, 2006

This holiday season, one Kenai boy is celebrating the greatest gift of all — good health.

After months of chemotherapy treatment and spending most of his days in a hospital bed in Seattle, 11-year-old Gabriel Boyle is bouncing around and looking forward to returning home soon.

“He’s just like a little boy again,” said Gabriel’s father, Mike Boyle. “He’s doing all those normal things that a 10- to 11-year-old child does. He’s going for long walks and punching me in the arm. He’s just like he was a year ago.”

In March, Gabriel was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a blood and bone marrow cancer characterized by a rapid, uncontrolled growth of immature white blood cells.

Since then, he has been staying at the Seattle Children’s Hospital, where he received chemotherapy treatments until October. He has not needed any chemotherapy treatment since October and doctors say his cancer is in remission, but Gabriel has continued to stay at the hospital while doctors wait for his bone marrow to resume normal activity.

However, Gabriel is continuing to improve from one day to the next, and although he wasn’t home for Christmas, it looks like he could be home for New Year’s Day, Mike said.

Mike and Gabriel’s mother, Maureen Boyle, will have to closely monitor Gabriel for several months as he continues to recover, and Mike said he expects Gabriel will return to school soon.

Gabriel’s white blood cells are recovering well. His red blood cell levels are recovering a little more slowly but remaining steady, and Gabriel hasn’t needed any transfusions for three to four weeks, Mike said.

After spending eight months in bed, Gabriel remains a little weak but is becoming stronger every day, Mike said.

Over the last eight months, Gabriel has occupied a lot of his time with cartoons, Animal Planet programs and developed a new ambition for when he grows up. But despite having spent many hours and days with doctors and nurses, his new ambition doesn’t have anything to do with going into a medical profession.

“It was the total opposite. He wants nothing to do with medicine, absolutely nothing,” Mike said. “He doesn’t care if he never sees a hospital again.”

Instead, with all of the Animal Planet programs and cartoons he’s watched, Gabriel has developed an interest in working with animals.

“And no, he doesn’t want to be a veterinarian,” Mike said. “I made the mistake of asking him that question — ‘So you want to be a veterinarian?’ — and he looked at me like I was an idiot.”

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