Dad who lost three children to cancer in four years is battling disease himself
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A father who lost three children to cancer in less than five years has opened up about his own cancer battle.
Régis Feitosa, 52, lost his youngest daughter, Beatriz, in 2018. She was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukaemia the previous year at the age of nine and underwent a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately the cancer returned and she died on 24 June 2018 at the age of 10.
The dad then lost his son Pedro, who was only 17 when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. Although he was cured on four different occasions, doctors discovered he had developed brain cancer in 2019. He passed away aged 22 on 30 November 2020.
Régis's eldest daughter, Anna Carolina, was diagnosed with lymphocytic leukaemia aged 12 in 2009. Following treatment that included chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she recovered from the cancer in about three years.
She became a doctor but was later diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2021 before she died on 19 November 2022 at the age of 25.
“In four and a half years, I lost all my children,” the heartbroken father told BBC News Brazil.
Régis, an economist, was informed that he was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2021. His first cancer diagnosis came in 2009.
He was also diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in 2016 and he began treatment with oral chemotherapy.
After the family became increasingly concerned about the prevalence of cancer, Régis decided that they should all undergo a genetic test.
Régis shared Anna Carolina and Pedro with his first wife and Beatriz with his second.
The results revealed that Régis has Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS), a rare genetic disorder that increases the risk of a person and their family developing cancer.
"We don't know the origin of my genetic alteration, because my parents don't have it. My father is currently 85 years old and my mother is 78. They are healthy," Régis explained.
LFS is rare but it is thought to be as frequent as one in 5,000 families to 1 in 20,000 families according to cancer.net.
LFS occurs when something changes in the TP53 gene which is responsible for the making of a protein called P53 which is a tumour suppressor, Cleveland Clinic explains.
P53 ensures cells don’t divide or grow too quickly or in an uncontrolled fashion, which would lead way to tumours.
Without P53 proteins, cells can divide uncontrollably and become cancers.
Régis is still receiving treatment for chronic leukaemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“My children said that I was as much a victim as they were,” he said.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week.