In March 2008, Ann was preparing for routine knee surgery when her preoperative blood tests came back abnormal. Further testing revealed a shocking diagnosis: Ann had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow.
“I was terrified that I wouldn’t be here for my husband and to watch my grandchildren grow,” says Ann. “Thankfully, my family was there to help. My daughter-in-law contacted Memorial Cancer Institute because they have the only outpatient bone marrow transplant program in South Florida, which means I could remain close to home with my friends and family by my side.”
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Memorial Cancer Institute’s Blood & Marrow Transplant Program is committed to delivering compassionate leading-edge healthcare for patients with blood cancers in South Florida and beyond. Located in Memorial Hospital West, it provides a wide range of services, including specialized medical care, clinical research and patient education and support groups.
Under the care of oncologist Lyle Feinstein, MD, Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Memorial Cancer Institute, Ann and her family received the explanations and reassurance they needed.
“Dr. Feinstein took the time to explain everything and always had the answers to my questions,” says Ann. “It was going to be a long, tough road, but I knew I was in good hands.”
The first step in her treatment was daily chemotherapy pills taken at home for two months, followed by two months of intravenous chemotherapy treatment.
“Ann received her treatment as an outpatient and was never hospitalized,” says Feinstein. “She benefitted from advanced cancer treatment that more directly targets the cancer, increasing her chance of success. At Memorial, we are proud to offer patients the opportunity to receive some of the highest quality cancer care available without having to leave their family and home.”
‘Never Alone at Memorial’
Following her chemotherapy treatment, Ann was ready for the next phase of her treatment – a bone marrow transplant. Her daughter Donna quickly and selflessly offered to be her caregiver and advocate. As part of Memorial’s commitment to patient- and family-centered care, the staff provided Ann and Donna with patient-caregiver education and support classes to help them through the transplant process.
For 40 days following her transplant, Ann would visit Memorial Cancer Institute at Memorial Hospital West daily for blood work.
“At times, I was terrified,” says Ann. “I can remember a day when I just broke down and I couldn’t stop crying. The social worker was right there to help to offer support. I was never alone at Memorial.”
After 90 days, Ann and her family returned for follow-up bone marrow testing, blood work and an MRI to see if the treatments and transplants had worked.
Unfortunately, the results demonstrated residual cancer cells. Ann would need another transplant.
“I couldn’t imagine having to go through it all again,” says Ann. “But with the support of my family and my Memorial family, I found the strength. Fortunately, the side effects were not as harsh as the first time and the results revealed good news – the treatment was effective.”
A year after her transplant, Ann is disease free and feeling well.
“We can’t say or do enough to thank Memorial,” says Ann’s husband, Rick. “To show our gratitude, we started an annual golf tournament. ‘Swings for Survivors’ is our way of supporting patient families and to show them that they have a shot at beating cancer too, just like Ann.”
For Ann, every day is a blessing. “I’m feeling well and enjoying my time with my husband, my children and grandchildren. I’m thankful for every day,” says Ann. “Choosing Memorial was a decision that saved my life.”