50th Autologous BMT Patient Says ‘Superb Team’ Is Worth the Travel

Trent FamilyAfter 32 years in the cake and candy business, Angie Trent of Chesapeake, Ohio, decided to enjoy the sweet rewards of retirement and sold her business.

She felt the trip to a primary care physician, Patti Jo Marcum, MD, for a routine exam in July 2013 would show a clean and healthy report but received a call later that same day to come back for additional blood tests.

She was alarmed by that request.

Trent’s doctor informed her that the blood tests indicated that her hemoglobin was low and protein was high, and at a follow-up appointment, her physician told her that she suspected multiple myeloma, a condition of the bone marrow. She was referred to Marshall University School of Medicine hematologist oncologist Mohamad Khasawneh, MD.

“It was like being hit by a truck, and my world came to an abrupt standstill,” she says.

Later that month, a bone marrow biopsy confirmed the diagnosis, and she began chemotherapy at the Joan C. Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center in Huntington, West Virginia, on the campus of Cabell Huntington Hospital.

Khasawneh outlined her course of treatment which included a referral to the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute Hematologic Malignancies Program and George L. Strike Bone Marrow Transplant Center.

The program, which is registered with the FDA and is accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) for quality transplant patient care, offers both inpatient and outpatient services.

During her evaluation for a stem cell transplant, it was discovered that she had hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland. Her chemotherapy was postponed until she had recovered from thyroid surgery, her best choice of treatment for her over active thyroid condition. It was felt that her hyperthyroid condition helped mask her symptoms related to the impact of the myeloma.

After a brief recovery period from her thyroid surgery, she resumed induction chemotherapy in Huntington. With favorable results, it was time to proceed with preparation for stem cell collection and transplantation.

Trent was being prepared for an autologous bone marrow transplant. With this type of transplant—also known as a stem cell transplant—a patient’s own healthy stem cells from their bone marrow, collected after the cancer (myeloma) is eradicated with chemotherapy drugs, are returned to his or her body through the venous circulation and find their way back into the bone marrow where they begin doing their work of producing healthy cells.

Both autologous (patient’s own cells) and allogeneic (donor cells) bone marrow transplantation are offered within the UC’s program, and the center is the only one in the Tristate to offer outpatient bone marrow transplantation.

Trent says the physicians and staff at the UC Cancer Institute and UC Medical Center were phenomenal, but she couldn’t help but get a tad discouraged.

“I have a very positive attitude overall. Since the day I was diagnosed, I turned it over to God and knew it was in his hands, but when other medical problems began to surface (hyperthyroidism), I just needed a little something extra to know it was going to be alright,” she says.

“We were building a new home near a local Catholic hospital, and the nuns in the convent came to visit one day while I was outside walking our dogs. They said they had been watching the construction of our new home and just wanted to come by to see it. I guess that was God’s sign to me that it was all going to be OK. After all, the driver of the car with the nuns in it was Sister Angela.”

Finally on June 12, 2014, only two days before her and her husband Bruce’s 40th wedding anniversary, Trent had her transplant. She was the 50th patient to receive an autologous transplant within the program at the institute.

She has been recuperating and her body has responded very favorably to the transplant.

Trent is excited to spend time with her family and her grandchildren and to enjoy the things in life that she hasn’t been able to in so long.

“It’s a journey that I’m glad is finally ending well,” she says. “However, I’m so happy to have been able to complete my treatment at a place like the UC Cancer Institute.

“From the moment I met Mr. Mac—a wonderful man—at the reception desk, I felt very confident that I was in the right place. Dr. Saulius Girnius and the mid-level providers, Nora and Lois, were very professional and therapeutic. I bonded well with all the nurses in the infusion and collection units and must say that Amanda and Homer hold a special place in my heart for the care they provided me the day of my transplant. The entire team at the UC Bone Marrow Transplant was superb.”

Bruce adds, “It’s great to have an inpatient and outpatient bone marrow transplant facility of this caliber with this level of incredible experience within driving distance of our home.”

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