Car Parade Planned for Boy Fighting Leukemia

Image of boy wearing beanie on his head giving a thumbs up. He's wearing a t-shirt which reads "You Got This! Ojas"

Natomas resident Ojas Ranade, 8, is fighting a rare form of childhood leukemia. / Courtesy Photo

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

A community car parade is set for Sunday morning to show support for an 8-year old Natomas boy who is battling leukemia for a second time.

The parade of encouragement for Ojas Ranade will begin staging at 10:45 a.m., adjacent to the North Natomas Community Park, near the corner of North Bend Drive and Baines Avenue. At about 11 a.m. vehicles will roll out and drive slowly along Baines Avenue and by Ojas’ house which is located on the 1700 block of Baines Avenue.

Participants are encouraged to make signs and honk their horns as they pass Ojas, who will be watching from the window.

Ojas with his twin sister Urvi, and older sister Aabha. / Courtesy Photo

Ojas lives with his parents Renu and Rajdeep Ranade, twin sister Urvi, and older sister Aabha. He is currently a second grader at Star Academy.

Ojas’s parents said he was first diagnosed juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, also known as JMML, when he was just 1 years old.

Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia is a rare and serious form of childhood blood cancer which occurs when too many blood stem cells become white blood cells called monocytes and myelocytes, according to the St. Jude’s Research Hospital website.

In 2014, Ojas had a bone marrow transplant at UC San Francisco from an unrelated donor from the United Kingdom. Ojas’s parents said he had been in remission ever since — until he began experiencing midnight headaches last year.

“So we took him to UCSF to figure out what’s happening and then our worst nightmare started again,” said Renu Ranade. “After doing the lumbar puncture and brain MRI, the team told us that his cancer is back, and this time in his cerebrospinal fluid.”

According to Ranade, there are only two reported cases of this type of relapse in the world. In both of those cases, she said, the cancer came back in both the bone marrow and cerebrospinal fluid.

“Ojas presents a unique case where the cancer is only in his cerebrospinal fluid and his bone marrow is still cancer-free,” she said.

Ojas recently completed radiation treatment and will soon be admitted to UC San Francisco for systemic chemotherapy, followed by another bone marrow transplant using his father’s stem cells.

“Ojas’s treating oncologist and bone marrow transplant attending are very hopeful about getting rid of cancer this time,” his mom said. “We believe in the UCSF team and God and think everyone’s prayers and blessings will definitely help Ojas get better.”

Coordinators Rayna Zurkic, Ari Duran and Sumiti Mehta said the encouragement parade is meant to celebrate and support Ojas and his journey back to health and recovery. (Duran has known the Ranade family since Ojas’s first diagnosis, when she was an intern at the Make-A-Wish Foundation.)

“We, as a community, all love and support him. We want him to know how much he is loved and prayed for Ojas is a treasure,” Zurkic said. “He makes this world a better place. This is all for Ojas. ”

Added Mehta, “Thank you to all who will be part of this, including his friends and family.”

Ojas Ranade with his parents Renu and Rajdeep, twin sister Urvi, and older sister Aabha. / Courtesy Photo

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