TAMPA - International illusionist Reynold Alexander thrills 13-year-old Conner with his magic. Despite having a genetic disorder that affects his young body, and despite suffering the side effects of chemotherapy for treatment of leukemia, Conner still smiles and laughs.
If only it were that easy to make cancer vanish.
Dr. Cameron Tebbi is trying to do just that in a lab on the University of South Florida campus.
Working for decades, he's finally got a lead on preventing leukemia. "What we are looking at is a protein that appears to recognize patients who have had leukemia many years ago." Patients like Conner, who are in remission, but still carry the protein inside them.
Dr. Tebbi says, "We'd like to use this protein eventually to see if it's a suitable agent to screen to see if we can find people who are completely healthy and never diagnosed with anything. If we can recognize those individuals and pick them up, it's a big step towards prevention."
And possibly a leukemia vaccine.
Tracey Hernandez says a vaccine - given at birth or at any age would have saved Conner from the terrible side effects of cancer treatment.
"Yes he's a survivor. Yes he's in remission, thanks to the medication, but thanks to the medication we have liver problems and kidney problems, skin problems and learning problems."
Research like Dr. Tebbi's takes money, and that brings us back to this magic man. He has something in common with the doctor - they are both trying to make things disappear.
And they'll work together at a fundraiser Thursday for Dr. Tebbi's research. Conner will one of the first kids there.
Dr. Tebbi is so excited about the protein discovery because he believes if a screening and a vaccine work for leukemia in clinical trials, they could work on other types of cancer. His research, however, is still in the lab stage - he needs funding for clinical trials.
For more information on the Magic Cure Benefit go to: http://tampatheatre.org/a-magic-cure-benefit/
For more information on 1voice foundation: http://1voicefoundation.com/about-us/
Lawrence A. Martucci Benefit: www.lawrenceamartucci.com