Stem cell transplant stops cancer recurrence in its tracks

Stem cell transplant stops cancer recurrence in its tracks

Linda Millar’s daily work commute from St. Catharines to Toronto was becoming difficult. Her legs ached and she was extremely tired.

After going for bloodwork, she received an after-hours call from her doctor requesting she come in the next day. She knew the news could not be good.

“I was weaker and it was difficult to even get up to go to the bathroom.”

Linda found out she had acute myeloid leukemia. She spent a month in Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, receiving intensive chemotherapy treatment. She continued to receive chemotherapy as an outpatient and went into remission. But 14 months later, as she was preparing to return to work, Linda learned her cancer was back.

This time, chemotherapy was much harder on her. “I was weaker and it was difficult to even get up to go to the bathroom,” says Linda, 55.
Her doctor told her that without a stem cell transplant, her cancer would keep coming back. “And I knew I wouldn’t be able to go through this treatment again,” Linda says.

After a brief admission for immunosuppression treatment and the transplant, Linda had a follow-up appointment every second day for 100 days to monitor her for complications. She had to avoid crowds and wear a mask when she left home. “I found the most challenging part was the weakness and the need to keep pushing myself to keep going,” she says. Four years later, she is grateful and feeling well.

“I pushed myself to keep going so I could have a tomorrow.”

Linda did not return to her old job and keeps busy with two part-time jobs and spending time with her two dogs and her husband, who she credits with helping her every step of the way and inspiring her to stay positive.

“The treatment I got was amazing. The nurses and doctors at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre are incredible. They kept my spirits high the whole time. I received the very top level of care,” Linda says. “I pushed myself to keep going so I could have a tomorrow. Mine is a real success story, thanks to my stem cell transplant.”

Stem cell transplant campaign
Time is of the essence. Every day more adults with blood cancers need a life-saving stem cell transplant. Your financial support will help enable Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre to provide 50 per cent more patients with donor-matched stem cell transplants. You can help patients like Linda have a tomorrow by donating today at hamiltonhealth.ca/stems.