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Tristan Smith

Bassfield, MS | T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Tristan traveled from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Jackson, Mississippi, to fight cancer through the Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

In August 2018, Tristan, then 7 and living with his family in Jakarta, began having severe back pain, said his father, Mark Smith. “We took him to the emergency room, where they found a collapsed lung, a cavity full of fluid, his spine and vital organs pushed to the side and, ultimately, the enormous tumor that was causing this and beginning to interrupt the blood flow to his brain.”

Tristan was diagnosed with T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. “Fortunately, our local doctor was able to get Tristan stable enough to travel so that we could make an emergency trip to the U.S. We went immediately to the emergency department at Children’s of Mississippi.

Children’s of Mississippi, the pediatric arm of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, includes the state’s only children’s hospital as well as expert care offered at clinics around the state.


Care through the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders helped Tristan beat his diagnosis.

“Dr. Dereck Davis is our hero, miracle worker and friend,” Smith said, “and Dr. Melissa McNaull is another amazing person who is like family to us. She is always honest and direct. We are so grateful to all of the staff members of the children’s hospital’s oncology floor. They made Tristan forget about all of the sickness and pain. There are so many nurses, doctors, assistants, anesthesiologists, radiologists, nutrition specialists, orderlies, educators and volunteers, from the emergency department to the oncology floor to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, who have had such an impact on my son and our family that it would be very difficult to name them all. Anyone who knows Tristan knows he has talked to them all!”


Tristan is now in remission, Smith said, “and he is well into his maintenance cycle now. From the latest prognoses, his forecast looks very promising. Tristan is well on his way to a bright future and returning to enjoy all of those wonderful things that have been put on hold these past few years.”


Friendly and outgoing, Tristan enjoys playing interactive games and spending time with other children. He’s an avid Minecraft player and likes to read and build robots and aircraft with Lego pieces.


“Tristan is still with us today because of all of the wonderful people at UMMC and Children’s of Mississippi and the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders,” Smith said. “Between all of the amazing staff, family and friends, and their support, we have been able to endure this journey with smiles, hope and a bright future for our little boy.”

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