Bloomfield man fights cancer with his own stem cells
Patti Singer • Staff writer • October 26, 2009
…pain shot through his back. “It was just killing me,” said Wheeler, 63, of Bloomfield, Ontario County.
A string of medical treatments — including a procedure to repair damaged vertebrae — brought no relief. A bone biopsy finally revealed multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that can show up as back pain.
Wheeler became the first person in the Rochester region to undergo a stem-cell transplant as an outpatient at the Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Wheeler’s own cells were used in a procedure that is the same whether the person stays in the hospital or is an outpatient. Stem cells are collected from the person’s blood before high-dose chemotherapy. After the chemo has cleared the bloodstream, the stem cells are re-infused and go to the bone marrow, where they make new blood cells in 10 to 14 days.
Outpatient autologous transplants with myeloma patients have been done in other parts of the country for several years, and the best candidates are those who have no other disease, said Dr. Gordon L. Phillips II, director of the Samuel E. Durand Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Wilmot.
Re-infusing a patient’s own cells lends itself to an outpatient procedure more than a transplant from a donor would, and the procedure enhances quality of life for those with a disease for which there is no cure.