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Patricia, patient, and her husband

Patricia, patient, and her husband

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Patricia, patient, and her husband

Patricia, patient, and her husband

Patient Story

Incredible Modern Science

Innovative treatment options for a cancer patient

For many cancer patients, receiving specialized cancer care can sometimes feel like a science lesson. Learning the complicated terminology that comes with your cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming not to mention the many intricate – and innovative – treatment options you encounter as part of your care.

For Patricia, one of the most complex and fascinating parts of her cancer care was when her expert oncology team replaced her stem cells – twice! 

“In the fall of 2020 I started feeling a lot of back pain and was generally unwell. I thought I had a bad flu. I knew something was wrong and consulted my doctor,” recalls Patricia.

After a series of blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy Patricia was diagnosed with plasma cell leukemia, an extremely rare and aggressive form of blood cancer affecting one in every million people without a history of myeloma each year.

“The hematology team at Lakeridge Health was fantastic, especially Dr. Vasanthamothan,” shares Patricia. “They were instrumental in finding out what exactly was going on with me and they took the time to call my husband and help explain everything.”

The team at Lakeridge got to work quickly to create a personalized care plan for Patricia. She had chemotherapy weekly and dialysis three times a week because her cancer was causing kidney failure.

Lakeridge Health’s R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre partners with other hospitals like Princess Margaret and Toronto General to support patients with aggressive blood cancers like Patricia. The partnership enables patients to have their stem cells removed in the downtown hospital but for their recovery to happen in their own community, at their local hospital.

During stem cell replacement therapy, Patricia had her stem cells collected. A few weeks later after intense chemotherapy, her stem cells were then reintroduced, similar to a blood transfusion. The treatment essentially wipes and then rebuilds the entire immune system which can make patients extremely vulnerable to illness. Following the procedure, Patricia was transferred from a partnering hospital back to Lakeridge Health to recover for 2-3 weeks.

“I’ve had two stem cell replacement procedures because the first one worked so well. I realized how there is an incredible amount of modern science in cancer care and the team working with me has so much expertise.”

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic created great challenges for patients and staff, Patricia was grateful that her family was close by and her Husband could still come visit her.

“We live in Brooklin and have been here for 18 years. We love this community and wouldn’t live anywhere else. It was important to us to be close to a good Hospital and during this experience I felt I was in good hands.”