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Karate tournament to raise funds for leukemia research

June 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local girl is battling a little-known form of leukemia. At the same time, she's fighting to get the disease more attention with the help of a team of warriors.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (4;11) translocation. It's not like the common form of leukemia you hear about in kids. It hasn't been researched as much, so sometimes doctors have to figure out on their on how to treat it best. One local girl is in the fight for her life, but she's got the help of a team of warriors.

Five-year-old Kimie Metcalf of Chino loves to watch her older brother Reese spar karate-style because she too has a fighting spirit.

She'd love to take classes too, but her plans were put on hold several months ago.

"She went in for a normal kindergarten screening and her white blood cell count was elevated," said Kristine Metcalf, Kimie's mother.

Kimie had no symptoms, but Kristine's worst fears were confirmed. Kimie was diagnosed with very rare form of blood cancer: a mixed phenotype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

The goal is to keep it from spreading to her brain and spine.

First she underwent low-dose chemotherapy. Then doctors changed her treatment plan to high-dose.

"It is a guessing game, they kind of know how they should treat it, but like I said, they do the best," said Kristine.

"In the past these groups of patients were not doing well," said Dr. Albert Kheradpour, Loma Linda University Medical Center. "But with augmentation of the treatment, more intensive treatment, the outcome is becoming much better than it used to be."

It's a scary situation, so the family focuses on finding a cure through raising money for leukemia research. And team Kimie is about to get some backup.

Kimie's fighting spirit is inspiring the whole dojo. On Saturday, they're challenging martial artists everywhere to compete and raise money for leukemia research.

"I feel for the family and I support them a hundred percent," said karate instructor Elaine Yamano.

Yamano is planning a tournament to raise money for the Leukemia Society. It'll be a battle to save lives. And Kimie is leading the charge.

Kimie's doctors at Loma Linda University Medical Center say her blood work has been showing good progress.

And her chances of beating this cancer have gone from 30 percent to as high as 80 percent.

The karate tournament will be held at Schurr High School in Montebello this Saturday. It's open to everyone.

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