In July 2019, Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre celebrated a major milestone when Dr. Brian Leber performed the thousandth allogeneic stem cell transplant.
On May 17, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced an investment of $25 million for the expansion of the Adult Stem Cell Transplant Program. In addition to this support, we are thankful to all donors to the Tomorrow Stems From You® campaign, which contributed $5 million to expand a dedicated clinical area and purchase vital equipment. Donor support has been vital to laying the foundation for this milestone. While this campaign is complete, the ongoing support of the community is vital to ensuring that the Hematology Program can meet the growing patient needs. We will continue to fundraise so more patients can have a tomorrow.
Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre is just one of three centres providing all forms of stem cell transplants to adult cancer patients in Ontario. A stem cell transplant has the ability to give more tomorrows to patients suffering from blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma. It is a complex, but potentially life-saving medical procedure, and patients across Ontario are waiting for their opportunity to receive a transplant.
Stem cell transplants, particularly donor-matched transplants (clinically known as allogeneic) are complex and resource-intensive, requiring very specialized facilities and highly trained clinical teams.
The campaign will enable the expansion of a dedicated and specialized clinical space, and to purchase essential equipment. The expansion is expected to be complete and open for patients in summer 2020.
Donate today because everyone deserves a tomorrow.
Cancer Journey Leads to a Hopeful Tomorrow
The fatigue kept getting worse for Frank Tousaw of Caistor Centre during the winter of 2013. Then the back pain would not go away.
“My family doctor suspected I had blood cancer,” Frank recalls, “so I was referred to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre for testing.”
Frank was diagnosed with Double Hit Lymphoma (DHL), an aggressive form of cancer. Without treatment Frank was in serious danger. Treatment included chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant, which involved the use of his own cells.
After spending 84 days in hospital, which included his stem cell transplant, Frank is now back to work full-time and his cancer is in remission.
“Now I have a hopeful tomorrow that will allow me to watch my kids make their way in the world.”
You can give more tomorrows. Donate today.
Stem cell transplant stops cancer recurrence in its tracks
Fourteen months after going into remission from acute myeloid leukemia, Linda Millar of St. Catharines learned her cancer was back.
This time, chemotherapy was much harder. “I was weaker. It was difficult to even get up to go to the bathroom,” Linda says.
Her doctor told her she needed a stem cell transplant. “He said that when this kind of cancer comes back, it will continue to come back. And I knew I wouldn’t be able to go through this treatment again.”
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 received the very top level of care at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. The whole team is incredible,” 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.”
Running against the odds for a brighter tomorrow
“My legs were hurting and I had difficulty walking,” says Boyd, recalling the summer of 2011.
While visiting his local hospital in London, he was given a devastating diagnosis: acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Boyd was transferred to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, where he underwent chemotherapy, full-body radiation and a stem cell transplant in May 2012.
Each day brought greater strength in his legs as he recovered slowly and steadily. Inspired and encouraged by friends, Boyd took up running during the summer of 2013.
“I completed my first full marathon in January 2015 and I ran the Boston Marathon in April 2016. My stem cell transplant gave me brighter tomorrows, which allowed me to run in Boston. I continue pushing the envelope wherever life takes me.”
Tomorrow Stems From You®. Donate today.
Uncertain future turns into a bright tomorrow
One month shy of her 20th birthday, Maddie was diagnosed with leukemia. She had been feeling exhausted and her mom had noticed she looked extremely pale. The diagnosis was a shock.
When chemotherapy was not as effective as her hematologist had hoped, it was recommended that Maddie have a stem cell transplant, which replaces unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy cells.
Maddie, a Burlington resident, was surprised that the procedure was like getting a blood transfusion. In fact, she slept through it. After a difficult month in isolation at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, Maddie went home.
Three years later, Maddie says, “I couldn’t have asked for a better team supporting me through that journey. I am living a normal life and looking forward to tomorrow, which is incredible because I never thought I would be able to do that.”
Stem cell transplant leads to a brighter tomorrow
“I thought it was just the common cold,” says Scott Rogers of Oakville, who began to feel unwell in November 2015. “Then I started experiencing chest pains.”
Blood tests at his local hospital indicated cancer. When a bone marrow biopsy revealed the cancer to be acute myeloid leukemia (AML), Scott was transferred to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre for treatment. He underwent two rounds of chemotherapy to prepare his body for a stem cell transplant.
After his older brother proved to be a viable stem cell donor, Scott underwent a successful stem cell transplant on April 15. Scott went home on May 3 and slowly regained his strength and stamina. At present, Scott is cancer-free.
“My stem cell transplant saved my life. Now I can look forward to a brighter tomorrow with my family.”
I now have a tomorrow
Cassandra Wadham of Burlington was experiencing weakness and night sweats. When she developed a mouth sore, she went to her local ER. They sent her to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.
A bone marrow biopsy showed 37-year-old Cassandra had acute myeloid leukemia.
For seven months, Cassandra underwent chemotherapy and full-body radiation to prepare her system for a stem cell transplant. A matching donor was found and the transplant was successful.
“It took about six weeks for me to recover to the point where I could be discharged,” says Cassandra. “I was in isolation for 100 days at home to minimize the risk of infection, leaving only for medical appointments.”
Cassandra is now thriving and looking forward to Feb. 3, 2017, which will mark five years in remission, at which point she will be considered cured.
“If I didn’t have a stem cell transplant, I probably would have died,” Cassandra says. “I can look forward to tomorrow and the future thanks to my stem cell transplant.”
What is a stem cell transplant?
A stem cell transplant is a method of replacing cells in the bone marrow that cause cancer. New stem cells from a donor are infused into the patient so that they can attack the underlying diseased cells to help fight the cancer.