SECOND OPINION GIVES BLOOD CANCER PATIENT SECOND CHANCE
When Alecia Benjamin was diagnosed with a relatively rare type of blood cancer, multiple myeloma, in 2015, she wasn’t about to gamble with her health. So the resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands traveled stateside, on two separate occasions, to get second opinions.
The most important was a referral to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital where its life-prolonging Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Immunotherapy Program gave Alecia the second chance she had hoped for.
“Some of my other doctors thought that a bone marrow transplant (BMT) was still experimental or that I wouldn’t be a candidate because of my age,” says Alecia, who was 75 at the time. “But it turns out that neither is true. So I decided why not go through with it? If BMT works, I will be happy and be able to enjoy a bit more of life.”
Alecia underwent the two-part procedure on November 17, 2015, a memorable day for both her and the hospital: She celebrated her 76th birthday, and MedStar Georgetown celebrated Alecia as their 50th BMT patient.
After discharge, Alecia recuperated with family members in Accokeek, Maryland, getting to spend Christmas with her grandchildren before returning to the Virgin Islands on New Year’s Day. In early March, she saw another granddaughter get married in St. Thomas. By mid-March, Alecia was back at MedStar Georgetown for her all-important 100-day follow-up appointment. That turned out to be another winning day for Alecia: Her cancer was in complete remission.
“Needless to say, I’ve had a very good experience with BMT,” she concludes. “I’m feeling almost normal again!”