Meet Rayyan

Rayyan is a bright and engaged 12-year-old boy who attends a specialized Science and Technology school with an enhanced curriculum in mathematics, science and technology.  He is an avid chess player who won the championship in his division at school and who has twice competed at the national level.

Rayyan is also a patient at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, being treated for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). 

His diagnosis was confirmed on December 1, 2017 after several months of extreme fatigue.  Several trips to the family doctor and many blood tests were done without leading to a cause for his symptoms, until Rayyan’s parents once again brought him to the doctor and new tests showed blasts (myeoblasts) in Rayyan’s blood. These immature white cells are not normally found in the blood and are an indication that leukemia may be present.

Rayyan was sent to hospital and, in short order, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a more rare form of childhood leukemia accounting for only 16% of all forms of pediatric leukemia. 

Due to the severity of this disease chemotherapy treatment is very intensive and begins as soon as the illness is diagnosed. 

Rayyan was hooked up to IV almost as soon as he arrived at the hospital and it was his mother, Madiha who broke the challenging news to her son.  

Soon after arriving at SickKids they met the medical team who would look after Rayyan and they learned that he would require five to six months of intensive chemotherapy and that he would need to be hospitalized for most, if not all, of that time.  

In fact, from December 1 until the beginning of April, Rayyan has only been able to spend three days at home. For much of this time he has been quite ill from the treatment. Because his blood counts have been so low he’s been at risk of infection so he’s had to spend much of that time isolated, in his hospital room.  

Rayyan appreciates how the team explains everything about his disease and his treatment to him in language he can understand. His vocabulary is now peppered with terms with which he had been unfamiliar a few short months ago and he can easily explain neutrophils, neutropenia and platelets and the effects of chemotherapy on his leukemia.