Kabir is an eight-year-old boy who is very affectionate, loving, and sweet. He has endless interests and loves dogs, superheroes, ponies, mermaids, magic shows, zoos, roller coasters, rock collecting, traveling, eating at "fancy" restaurants, watching television and movies, building Legos, and playing video games. Before his diagnosis, Kabir also enjoyed swimming and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is caring by nature and an amazing older brother to his younger sibling, Ayaan. His favorite activity is to play endlessly and go on excursions with Ayaan, who has been his best friend through this difficult journey.
In April 2017, Kabir complained of wrist pain after his family returned from a Disney cruise vacation. Nothing was found on the X-ray, but the following week he started having severe ankle pain and intermittent fevers. His pediatrician saw him two days before he was diagnosed but did not suspect cancer. The next night, his mom felt that something was wrong as Kabir had lost his color, had dark circles around his eyes and looked extremely fatigued. They went to the ER the following day and he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). That very same day, Kabir was transferred to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.
Two weeks into his diagnosis, his parents would be crushed to learn that his cancer was high-risk as he was positive for the Philadelphia chromosome mutation. His chemotherapy protocol changed and became much more intense. It would end up including a grueling ten months inpatient between scheduled chemotherapy blocks and unexpected illnesses. The first year was so tough to get through, but he started maintenance in April 2018 and finished treatment in May 2019.
Sadly, in July 2019, he relapsed in his CNS fluid. "The shock of the relapse after hoping for two years that it would all be behind us soon is soul-crushing," said Bhavika, his mom. He once again started chemotherapy to get back into remission. His parents transferred his care to UCSF who advised to start a clinical trial far from his California home at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
In November 2019, he received humanized CAR-T cells and Kabir's family stayed in Philadelphia through the holidays. Upon coming back home, Kabir started to feel much better and was regaining his strength and endurance. Again, the month of July would bring sad news. Kabir had another extra medullary relapse in his testes. He received chemotherapy and surgery to get back into remission. With frontline and trial treatments exhausted, the only option left to fight this aggressive disease was for him to receive a bone marrow transplant. Without a perfect match in the bone marrow database, his treatment team would turn to Kabir’s brother Ayaan for stem cells to perform a haploidentical transplant. Ayaan quickly rose to the occasion. While usually uncomfortable with needles, during a pre-transplant blood draw he told the nurses, “Just do it already!”
After three months inpatient for his transplant, Kabir was finally able to come home right before the holidays with tests showing that he is once again in remission. Kabir’s fight against cancer has been a very tough one and one that would not have even been possible as little as a decade and a half ago. Kabir has benefited from many new treatments including Dasatinib, a drug that specifically targets his chromosomal mutation, CAR-T, an immunotherapy that used Kabir’s own T-cells to fight the cancer, and haploidentical transplant, a treatment for individuals that don’t have a perfect bone marrow match. Each of these have shown promise in the search for a cure.
“Private funding has led to huge strides in pediatric cancer care. This funding helps children live longer, happier lives with better outcomes, shorter treatment cycles and less toxicity.”, said Kabir’s father, Mandeep.
Kabir’s parents are extremely proud of their boys and how they have shown strength, bravery, and sacrifice. When someone is down, Kabir often says, “Look on the bright side…”. While life calls on Kabir to be a warrior, he has remained a very giving and loving person. Cancer could not take away his kindness. His favorite quote is “You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!”