The Right Dose

By Koren Wetmore |

In the pediatric bone marrow transplant clinic, pharmacist Janel Boyle’s past and present collide.

She drifts past young patients—many of them infants and toddlers—and notes their beaming smiles and balding heads. Her gaze shifts to the parents, their expressions tense but hopeful.

The scene reminds her of her childhood, of time she spent in the hospital visiting her sister, Jenny, who at age 2 was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. Boyle fights back tears as she recalls Jenny’s suffering both during and long after years of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Although her sister survived the cancer, she continues to this day to endure the side effects caused by the very drugs used to treat her disease.

“Jenny developed metabolic syndrome, thyroid cancer, and cognitive issues. Even simple things, such as learning to balance her checkbook, were difficult,” says Boyle, an assistant professor of clinical pharmacy and a translational scientist at UC San Francisco. “So, for me, the goal isn’t just that patients survive, but also making sure they get the right dose as a child, so they don’t pay a lifelong consequence…


Published in UC San Francisco Magazine