Susan O’Donnell is an avid sports fan who has loyally followed the New York Mets all her life. Just as the team has had its ups and downs, so has she. Susan has been fighting multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that can be treated but not cured, for nearly five years.
After numerous drug and chemotherapy regimens and a prior stem cell transplant, doctors advised Susan that her best chance at a longer remission was a dual or tandem transplant. This treatment involves two courses of high-dose chemotherapy that are each followed by a stem cell transplant.
Susan is currently preparing for the second half of the dual transplant. Keeping her distracted through the lengthy treatment process are the New York Mets, especially the right-handed knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey, who Susan loves to watch. Last month, Susan mentioned that she was “excited by the thought of being well enough to return to Citi Field to see the Mets play and hopefully see R.A. Dickey pitch in person.”
The Bone Marrow Foundation decided to try and do something to turn that thought into a reality, and the New York Mets organization graciously assisted in creating a special day for Susan. Not only did she return to Citi Field to watch the Mets play, she and her family had the opportunity to be on the field during batting practice, surrounded by her beloved Mets players.
As she watched some of her favorite players such as David Wright, Ruben Tejada, and Ike Davis take batting practice, she was greeted by Bob Ojeda, who pitched for the 1986 World Series Champion New York Mets team. Bob took some time to get to know Susan and allowed her to try on his World Series Championship ring. Susan proclaimed “what a boost!” after the thrilling interaction.
Far exceeding all her expectations was the private meeting that followed with R.A. Dickey. As she sat and waited to meet him, she was greeted with hello’s by every Mets player who passed by. Susan was taking it all in and observed that this is “just another day for them, but for me…one of my best.”
Her excitement reached a peak as R.A. Dickey came out and met her with a hug. He then took the time to listen to Susan’s entire treatment journey and get to know her family. He asked questions about the transplant process and offered her encouragement for the future.
R.A. Dickey has been an inspirational and captivating player on and off the field. He does his best to provide momentum for his team, but he has now also done that for Susan. During an extremely challenging time, he has provided an amazing and exciting memory for her and her family.
The New York Mets lost 13-0 to the Miami Marlins that night, but as a dedicated Mets fan, Susan stayed until the very end of the game. The following day, R.A. Dickey pitched his fourth complete game of the season, led the Mets to a 6-1 victory over the Marlins, and earned a National League-leading 15th win, which matched the most wins of any pitcher in Major League Baseball. Most importantly though, for the O’Donnell family, this continued to provide Susan an exciting distraction as she continues to fight her cancer.
David Alston was initially diagnosed with testicular cancer in March of 2011. He was treated with chemotherapy and went into remission, but unfortunately, a few months later, he relapsed. Now he is fighting cancer a second time.
David and his doctors feel his best chance at a cure is a triple-tandem autologous transplant, which will be the first performed at UNC Hospitals. The process involves harvesting and freezing his own stem cells, receiving high-dose chemotherapy to attack the cancer, then having the stem cells infused over three back-to-back hospitalizations. David feels that he is in the hands of an excellent team of professionals, but his illness and treatment have caused a financial hardship.
This challenging process has left David with many insights and he has learned some great lessons, including letting people in and sharing his experience. To learn more about David, click here and watch the video below.
From UNC Health Care