Toward a brighter tomorrow

Toward a brighter tomorrow

A large unexplained bruise on her leg was the first sign of something being terribly wrong. When Dorothy Vernon-Brown of Mississauga visited a walk-in clinic to have the bruise examined, she received the shock of her life. The blood tests revealed that she had cancer.

“Time stood still when they said it was probably leukemia,” says Dorothy. “I wasn’t able to process such gut-wrenching news. I’d always prided myself on my healthy lifestyle and I never thought that cancer would be a part of my story.”

Dorothy was transferred to a cancer centre, where she was diagnosed with a dangerous form of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and treated with chemotherapy. After an initial remission, the cancer returned 10 months later. At this point Dorothy’s best option for treatment was Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC).

She required a haploidentical stem cell transplant and Hamilton was the only place in the province where this special type of procedure was being performed. Haploidentical transplants involve the use of stem cells from “half-match” donors when a matching donor cannot be found. Stem cells from Dorothy’s sister would be used.

Additional chemotherapy and radiation treatment were used to prepare Dorothy’s body for the stem cell transplant, which was scheduled for March 2016. Since her sister was only a half-match, there was an increased likelihood of complications caused by the transplanted cells attacking Dorothy’s system. Luckily the transplant was successful and Dorothy did not experience any significant complications.

“Now that I have a brighter tomorrow ahead of me, I can resume my healthy lifestyle and enjoy more joyous moments of laughter with my lovely children.”

“The care I received exceeded my expectations,” she says. “The staff provided the best care possible during such a difficult time.”

Dorothy began to recover in the weeks following the transplant and she started feeling “like herself again” six months after the procedure.

“Now that I have a brighter tomorrow ahead of me, I can resume my healthy lifestyle and enjoy more joyous moments of laughter with my lovely children.”

Tomorrow Stems From You campaign logo

Tomorrow Stems From You is a campaign to enable the expansion of a dedicated and specialized clinical space, and to purchase essential equipment, so that Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre can provide 50 per cent more cancer patients with potentially life-saving stem cell transplants. Donate today at hamiltonhealth.ca/stems.