Lukas Voelz is supported in the hospital by his father, Jeff. Lukas has been fighting acute lymphocytic leukemia since March 2019. Thanks to the Voelz family.
Lukas Voelz, whose extended family is from Tripoli and Thessaloniki, is a leukemia warrior – and would like your help in finding a better treatment tailored for children fighting the disease.
His mother, Nicole, is of Greek descent, and she still has an extended family in Greece. She married her husband Jeff in 2012 at her church, Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Westchester, Illinois. They had a son, Jacob, 6.5 years ago, who describes Nicole as “the sweetest, most helpful, loving, caring person you will ever meet,” in an exclusive interview with Greek Reporter.
Luke and Jakob Voelz. Thanks to the Voelz family.
Then the young couple were blessed with another son, Luke, nearly four years ago. But their idyllic life took a turn when Lukas was 21 months old. In March 2019, Nicole and Jeff noticed some red spots on Lukas’ neck.
“We went to the pediatrician who recommended that we have a blood test. Later that evening we got the call that something was wrong with his blood test and that we had to go back to the hospital, ”says Nicole.
Their son was subsequently diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. “Our world came to a standstill at that point and will change forever. The treatment plan consists of different types of toxic chemotherapy drugs for 3.5 years, ”Nicole explains.
She describes the family’s poignant journey in her blog, “Journey of a Leukemia Warrior,” here.
“My husband and I have large, loving, and close-knit families,” says Nicole. Raised in a Greek Orthodox family (my mother is Greek and my father is Italian, but we were raised GO), the family was the center of our world. My mother comes from a ‘Big Greek Family’ with six brothers and sisters. “
Lukas and Jakob Voelz. Thanks to the Voelz family.
Nicole teaches 5th / 6th grade English language learners. “Before we had children, my husband and I loved to travel and wanted to show our children the world, have new experiences and bring them back to where their families came from,” she tells Greek Reporter. “Since I have a child with a medical condition and a compromised immune system, travel has been on the back burner.”
Leukemia warrior has a whole year of treatment left
Lukas is scheduled to complete the treatment in May 2022. “He is doing very well. Some months are more difficult than others, but for the most part, he has handled the treatments like a champ. His prognosis is very good. ALL has a 95% cure rate, but a very long way to reach that cure rate after five years of being cancer free, ”explains his mother.
In addition to having a bone marrow biopsy, Lukas also had an epidural to determine what type of leukemia he was suffering from. The little warrior then underwent surgery to place a port in his chest that will be used for chemotherapy treatments at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois for the next 3.5 years.
Jeff, Lukas and Nicole Voelz. Thanks to the Voelz family.
His proud mother says: “Our almost 4-year-old Lukas is strong, brave and a fighter! We know he will beat this and keep doing great things in life.
“Lukas is the most remarkable little boy you will ever meet. He always runs around with his brother Jacob, smiling, giggling, eating and playing as normal. Nothing can stop him!
The indomitable little boy “wears a smile on his face every day,” Nicole tells Greek Reporter. “He’s never met anyone he doesn’t like and loves an audience that sees him doing silly things. He likes hard and gives the biggest monster hugs he can. He is the happiest child I know. “
During this incredibly difficult journey for their little leukemia warrior, says Nicole, her little son “taught us all about the meaning of persistence, how to overcome challenges and how to be happy people in the face of adversity. He is the most amazing person I’ve ever met.
“Impressed by its strength”
“Every day I am amazed at his strength – even though he feels awful, you would never know.”
Now Lukas wants your help in finding a better treatment for the leukemia that has ravaged his body.
“These children are receiving the same types of treatments and chemotherapy as adults,” explains his mother to Greek Reporter. “They are hard and very poisonous. We have to do better for the children. In pediatric cancer, especially leukemia, no new drug has been approved for over 40 years.
Part of the foundation she and Jeff founded, “Childhood Cancer Warriors,” will raise money for childhood cancer research, she adds. “We also want to focus on supporting the family during and after their cancer journey. We’ve been so lucky to have an army supporting us, but a lot of people don’t and we want to be there for them.
“We have been lucky enough to be surrounded by so much love, prayers, and giving that we decided to create our own childhood cancer foundation to give back to all the new families starting in the same place where we were,” says Nicole. .
“We want to raise awareness about childhood cancer and how little money there is for children in the United States. Only 4% of the NCI budget goes to children, the rest goes to adults. “
Lukas later wants to become a train conductor. For now, his big brother is the one who makes him laugh the loudest and who he always wants to be with. “Those brothers have the most special bond imaginable,” Nicole told Greek Reporter. “Jacob cares about Luke as if he were his son, and you can see how much Luke looks up to him as his idol.
“Jakob is the best big brother. He went to every clinic appointment with Lukas for the coronavirus. Held his hand and told him not to be afraid if they entered his harbor.
“He would crawl into bed with him and lie with him while he got his chemo,” added his mother in awe.
“He never makes a fuss when we can’t do something and if Lukas isn’t feeling well, he sits down next to him. Lately, he said to his younger brother, “Luke, I’ll switch with you and take your cancer away, and you can be me and healthy so you know what it feels like.” That’s the kind of brother that Jacob is. There is no one like him out there. He is great!”
The small family is coping with Lukas’ disease as best they can because they are surrounded by what Nicole calls’ an army of supporters’.
She says, “Growing up in a Greek Orthodox family and being involved in the church community was very important to me and my family. I taught at a Greek Orthodox elementary school in Koraes in Palos Hills, Illinois for several years.
“I have been lucky enough to visit Greece and see the roots of my family. It was a great experience and I wanted to be able to do that for my children. One of our dreams and wishes for our children is to take them to Greece. “
If you want to support the family and promote research into new types of childhood leukemia treatment, visit the family’s Facebook page here or their website here. Those who live close enough can also send a birthday card to Lukas, whose big day is May 30, to show their support for the little warrior’s fight against leukemia.