Brazilian economist lost three children to cancer in less than 5 years as he battled the disease himself

A Brazilian economist has buried three consecutive children due to cancer in the span of less than five years, all while battling the disease himself.

All four family members learned in 2016 suffer from a rare genetic disorder that increases the risk of a person and their family developing cancer. The disorder, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, affects only 5 in 20,000 families across the globe.

Regis Feitosa, 52, lost his youngest daughter first.

Beatriz Feitosa was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2017 at the age of 9 and underwent a bone marrow transplant. The cancer, however, returned and she died just a year later on June 24, 2018 at the age of 10.

The next father lost his son, Pedro, who was just 17 when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. He was treated on four different occasions and then developed brain cancer in 2019 and died at the age of 22 on November 30, 2020.

The family’s eldest daughter, Anna Carolina Feitosa, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when she was only 12 years old in 2009. She recovered from the cancer in about three years following a treatment that included radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and He would grow up to become a doctor, but was later diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2021 and died on November 19, 2022, when she was 25 years old.

‘In four and a half years, I lost all my children,’ Regis told BBC News Brazil.

Regis Feitosa (second from right) with his three children who died from cancer: Anna Carolina (left), Pedro (second from left) and Beatriz (right). Regis is currently battling chronic leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Brazilian economist Regis Feitosa was diagnosed in 2016 with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that increases the risk that a person and their families have at developing cancer.  His three children were diagnosed with the same syndrome and each died from cancer within a span of five years

Brazilian economist Regis Feitosa was diagnosed in 2016 with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that increases the risk that a person and their families have at developing cancer. His three children were diagnosed with the same syndrome and each died from cancer within a span of five years

Regis, who himself was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009, became increasingly concerned that the cancers were related and decided that all his children should undergo a genetic test.

The blood work revealed that Regis had Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that increases the risk that a person and their families have of developing cancer.

‘The results showed that I had a genetic alteration that unfortunately was also passed on to my children and that potentiates the appearance of cancer,’ he explained.

The family determined in 2016 that they shared the rare mutation, but little could be done to stop the onset of deadly cancers.

‘Li-Fraumeni syndrome can’t be prevented,’ according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Regis' oldest daughter, Anna Carolina, was only 25 years old when she died of a brain tumor on November 19.

Regis’ oldest daughter, Anna Carolina, was only 25 years old when she died of a brain tumor on November 19.

Regis (right) with his son, Pedro, who died of brain cancer on November 30, 2020 and his daughter, Anna Carolina, who died of a brain tumor on November 19

Regis (right) with his son, Pedro, who died of brain cancer on November 30, 2020 and his daughter, Anna Carolina, who died of a brain tumor on November 19

Regis' (left) youngest daughter, Beatriz (right), was just 9 years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2017. She died on June 24, 2018 at the age of 10

Regis’ (left) youngest daughter, Beatriz (right), was just 9 years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2017. She died on June 24, 2018 at the age of 10

Regis, who in 2021 learned that he was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, said his parents did not have the hereditary disorder.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, anyone who has the syndrome has about a 90 percent chance of being diagnosed with one or more types of cancer at any given point in their life and a 50 percent chance of developing the disease before the age of 30.

Females at birth who have Li-Fraumeni syndrome have a nearly 100 percent chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

‘Li-Fraumeni syndrome happens when something changes in the TP53 gene, which contains the instruction manual to make a protein called tumor protein 53, or P53,’ according to the Clinic’s website.

Regis has documented his family's fight against cancer throughout the years on social media

Regis has documented his family’s fight against cancer throughout the years on social media

The Brazilian economist, who suffers from chronic leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, has blood drawn during a doctor's visit

The Brazilian economist, who suffers from chronic leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has blood drawn during a doctor’s visit

The P53 protein acts as a tumor controller and can keep cells from splitting up and growing too fast or in a fashion that can’t be controlled before forming into a tumor.

‘When your TP53 gene changes, the P53 protein instruction manual changes as well, losing the how-to section for making P53,’ the Cleveland Clinic says. ‘Without properly functioning P53 proteins, cells can divide uncontrolled and become cancers.’

Regis, who is still receiving treatment for chronic leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, said that he has never felt guilty for passing Li-Fraumeni syndrome and on to his three children.

‘My children said I was just as much a victim as they were,’ he said.

The grieving father added that his family’s ordeal is no worse than any other’s.

‘Today my view is that we have to live intensely, with the utmost joy,’ Regis said. ‘My son said a very coherent sentence: ‘No one can measure the pain of the other.’

‘I don’t believe there is a bigger or smaller problem, the fact is that we cannot measure the pain of the other.’

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