Father Lives to Mark His Son’s Graduation after Successful Bone Marrow Transplant

Graduation season 2014 has special significance for 66 year-old Bruce Sullivan and his son Kieran of Lorton, Virginia. It’s a milestone Bruce wasn’t sure he would live to see.

June 2, 2014

(Washington, D.C.) - Graduation season 2014 has special significance for 66 year-old Bruce Sullivan and his son Kieran of Lorton, Virginia. It’s a milestone Bruce wasn’t sure he would live to see.

Bruce was diagnosed in 2011 with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. At that time, all he could think about was living to see his youngest son Kieran graduate from high school.

“Kieran and I have always been very close, “said Bruce. “My son was just a freshman when I was diagnosed and I wanted to be there for his big milestone; high school graduation. That has been my goal all along this journey with cancer.”

By the fall of 2013 Bruce had been through several rounds of the standard medications and chemo therapies and it was clear that they were no longer working, according to his physician Scott Rowley, MD, Director of the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

MedStar Georgetown Bone Marrow Transplant

Kieran Sullivan and his dad Bruce Sullivan as Kieran prepares for his high school graduation.

“We were running out of viable options,” said Dr. Rowley. “The classic drugs were running their course.”

“So it was suggested to me that I have a bone marrow transplant to try and knock this cancer into remission,” said Bruce. “I felt the BMT was a gift being given to us; a door that opened and will allow me to be there for Kieran’s big day.”

So in November 2013 Bruce started the preparation process for a stem cell transplant. He was admitted to MedStar Georgetown on January 7, 2014 for a transplant of his stem cells using his own stem cells.

“The first step was for Bruce to donate some of his own stem cells,” said Dr. Rowley. “We collected those cells and froze what we didn’t need. Then he was admitted to the hospital and given high dose chemo therapy for one day. Next, we gave him back his own stem cells. Stem cells populate bone marrow and produce new red and white blood cells.”

After about 12 days Bruce was ready to leave the hospital. Follow up checks found that his cancer was knocked into remission.

“My dad has always been the rock of the family,” said Kieran Sullivan who is graduating from Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Virginia. “High school was tough for me, but when I understood my dad’s goal of seeing me graduate, that motivated and inspired me. I became focused on graduating in four years with flying colors.”

Now Bruce is off of all medications for his multiple myeloma, while being closely monitored by Dr. Rowley and his oncologist.

“In Bruce’s case we know this is not a cure for his multiple myeloma,” said Dr. Rowley. “But many patients can go two or three years before their cancer comes back. What Bruce is getting right now is a break; a break for his body from chemotherapies and other medications that severely inhibit his quality of life.”

“I know there was a real chance that I wouldn’t see this,” said Bruce. “Everything I see now has more meaning and I am truly thankful that Georgetown had this option for me. I’m very proud of my son. Now I’m thinking of his next milestone, like college graduation.”

Category : Cancer ,

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