DHK - Jeremy "JJ" Demers, 34, Stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma (white blood cell cancer), Ludlow, with Dr. Joseph Antin, chief and program director, Stem Cell Transplantation, Dana-Farber 8-16-17

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JJ was diagnosed in December 2013. He drove himself to the hospital at 4 am with extreme pain, and an inability to eat or sleep. A CT scan found that his lymph nodes were enlarged to the size of baseballs between his organs, putting pressure and pain on his back. He also had been losing weight and they found cancer in his lungs, his heart was only working at 30%. JJ is currently undergoing radiation for treatment. He has had two bone marrow transplants, 18 months of chemotherapy and now, radiation. JJ chose Dana-Farber because he says “their technology and knowledge exceeds anywhere in this world to help fight this ugly monster of cancer.” He enjoys playing sports, especially baseball and softball, and coaching kids. He has pitched twice at Fenway Park when he was playing for UMASS baseball team. JJ works typically 7 days a week on transmission lines. He says it’s pretty intense, dangerous, and a thrill. What helps JJ to stay positive is to think “someone has it worse”.

Dr. Antin treats patients like JJ who's only hope of cure or survival might be a stem cell transplant. Stem cell transplants are used to restore the stem cells when the bone marrow has been destroyed by disease, chemotherapy (chemo), or radiation. Stem cells are in the blood and bone marrow--they are young immature cells that turn into blood cells. Some patients with certain types of cancer benefit from a stem cell transplant--after their unhealthy cells are destroyed by chemo and radiation, they are replaced by either their own cells harvested at an earlier time or by those of a sibling or even a stranger. Dr. Antin can speak about the strides made in this technology thanks to research and about what has become new in this field over the past 10 years.

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