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Childhood cancer

They had the same name. The same childhood cancer. They lost touch – then reunited.

David Oliver

Several decades ago, two New Orleans children developed the same disease: acute lymphoblastic leukemia. But before that they shared something else in common: The same name.

Dorian Scott, 40, and Dorionne Scott, 37, were patients of the same oncologist at Children's Hospital of New Orleans. The office regularly mixed up their appointments. Was the boy coming in? Or the girl? The two shared no blood relatives, "we just came across each other every so often as young kids," Dorian Scott recalls.

Little did they knew their paths would cross again as adults in a random, feel-good movie kind of twist – the story you hope you can talk about 30 years after surviving cancer.

Dorian Scott (right) and Dorionne Scott (left) were patients of the same oncologist at Children's Hospital of New Orleans.

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A scary (but hopeful) diagnosis

The two led parallel lives as children. Dorian's belly grew larger than normal; then came the seizures. Dorionne felt sluggish and lethargic at her 3rd birthday party; then came the high fever. Both eventually received a leukemia diagnosis.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia – the most common leukemia in children – makes up approximately 30% of all pediatric cancers, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It has one of the highest cure rates, though that doesn't take away from the trauma of being diagnosed with cancer so young, either.

Both remember the portacath, the chemotherapy, the doctors appointments. Dorian wore a hat in his first and second grade school pictures since he didn't have any hair. Still: "It never hindered me from accomplishing a lot and participating in sports and stuff like that even though in my younger days, I did have ports in my chest for whenever I had to do blood work." Both made it through and remain in remission.

Their lives took them in different directions – until they wound up working at the same hospital together.

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'A full-circle moment'

Dorian grew up to be a surgical technician and even was on staff at Children's Hospital himself for a decade before transferring to Ochsner Clearview in New Orleans, a new facility, in 2023. There, Dorionne was hired for the front desk as a surgical scheduler.

Dorionne first noticed something amiss at her interview for the job. Her interviewer was expecting a man. "I wonder why he's looking confused like that," she remembers thinking. But Dorionne didn't think much of it even after meeting all her new coworkers.

The same mix-ups started happening again – this time with bills erroneously sent to his email – and Dorian suspected this was the same girl he knew as a kid. One day he asked if she ever went to Children's Hospital. What, no, that's a weird question, I'm an adult, Dorionne thought. She explained she did as a kid – and Dorian explained he did too. Leukemia.

She threw her arms around him in what Dorionne calls "a full-circle moment." The reunion sparked a unique connection where "we just developed this brother-sister relationship," Dorian adds; both have kids themselves now. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell even recognized both for their 30th anniversary of cancer survivorship in proclamations.

While Dorionne no longer works there – she's now a mental health crisis responder – the pair have stayed in contact. It's safe to say they won't forget each other now.

As Dorian says: "It's just a blessing that we both still here, we both can tell our story."

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