Teen could help cure her own cancer

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Behind the scenes in the Texas Medical Center, ground breaking research takes place every day. But in one lab, a 17-year-old high school student is working on something phenomenal -- research that could help cure her own cancer.

At age 14, Lauren Bendesky got the news no one wants to hear. She had stage four neuroblastoma -- an aggressive cancer that had already spread to her bone marrow.

"Basically, my whole life stopped and I just had to go into treatment," she said. "The nurses and doctors became home and my new family. ... I think that was the hardest part."

After chemotherapy, radiation, a stem cell transplant, and immunotherapy, today, she's in remission.

"Going through it, I really noticed how toxic and not innovative the treatment that childhood cancer victims receive and how not many new treatments have been created," Bendesky said.

So when Dr. Dean Lee from MD Anderson Cancer Center offered Bendesky an internship in his lab, she seized the opportunity.

"The research I'm doing this summer is working to help find new treatment options for the type of cancer I had," she said. 'We drew my blood my first week here and I'm actually using parts of my blood for my own experiments."

Dr. Lee said, "She's accomplished enough in the four weeks that she's been here that we have some important pieces of data from the experiments that she did."

Bendesky's goal now is to one day become a pediatric oncologist.

"She really is very smart. And I think she's got a very good career ahead of her," Dr. Lee said.

Bendesky received the internship through her work as a St. Baldrick's ambassador, a nonprofit group dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.