Albertson boy fighting lymphoma and rare immune disorder

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A Long Island boy is fighting cancer and a life-threatening immune disorder at the same time.

Tommy Yorke, a 13-year-old Albertson native, is fighting lymphoma at Cohen Children's Medical Center. But his parents say he almost died in September from HLH.

Yorke was 12 when he spiked a fever that lasted 25 days. His parents took him to several specialists and the ER. Then, on Sept. 26, Tommy was having trouble breathing and was rushed to the hospital, where they learned he had developed HLH.

"We rushed him to Cohen Children's Medical Center then he winded up being incubated within 90 minutes. He was crashing. He couldn't breathe. His body was shutting down," says Annette Yorke, Tommy's mom.

Doctors put him on life support and began treating HLH with steroids, saving his life. HLH is the same immune disorder that may have contributed to the death of ESPN reporter Edward Aschoff.

Yorke's parents want to raise awareness about the condition. Doctors say HLH is a rare excessive immune response triggered by infection or cancer, where the white blood cells attack the organs. It's difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other conditions.

"He'll be fighting it through March, April, but it's weird to say that stage 3 cancer ... we have that, it's the HLH that scared us to death. We know he's going to beat the cancer, the HLH still scares me," says Chris Yorke.

Tommy finished round two of chemotherapy Tuesday. He will rest for 16 days, but has four more rounds of chemo to go. His friends call him Tommy Tsunami -- a tribute to his fighting spirit and strength.

A GoFundMe has been established to help the Yorke family.


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