by Elizabeth Mehren

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Just about everyone in town knows by now that Marty Walsh is the son of Irish immigrants, a former labor organizer, a recovering alcoholic and a man who is happily unmarried to “the love of my life.” But it’s possible that few outside a rather eccentric quartet of Boston University researchers took note of one particular item in the biography of Boston’s new mayor. Walsh is a survivor of Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a virulent variety of pediatric cancer known to be fastest-growing human tumor. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Burkitt’s is the most widespread type of childhood cancer. Burkitt’s is on the rise in Kenya and Uganda and diagnosis is challenging. Chronic malaria is closely linked to Burkitt’s and is prevalent in Kenya’s malaria-prone lake regions. With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, students were able to travel to Kenya and create stories of foreign aid from the point of view of the recipients. One story that one of our Kenyan students reported on was about one of the few hospitals in Kenya that treats Burkitt’s. Walsh demonstrates chemotherapy can reverse Burkitt’s Lymphoma, but only if the disease is diagnosed early, and treatment is aggressive.

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