Four strands of colorful beads dangled from Christopher Wilke’s IV pole as he sat on the couch in his hospital room overlooking Los Angeles.
The yellow beads — more than two dozen of them — represented the number of nights the 12-year-old Burbank resident has spent in the hospital in the last two months. The white ones stood for each round of chemotherapy. The black beads: every time he’s been poked. Silver: every clergy visit.
In total, there were nearly 300 beads.
“It’s like I’ve been through a lot,” Christopher said while looking at the strands that symbolized his life story since Jan. 4.
That’s the day the David Starr Jordan Middle School student was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer of the bile duct.
Christopher is the first patient on record at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles — and among the youngest patients ever — to be diagnosed with a pure cholangiocarcinoma, according to Dr. Hung Tran, the hospital’s pediatric oncologist and assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.