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Hockey great keeps Hodgkin’s lymphoma in check

Written by Community Health Network on 2/21/2014 10:30:00 AM

For his performance during the 1992-1993 season with the Pittsburg Penguins, back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships and gold medal win in the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake, Mario Lemieux earned the name “Super Mario”. But what is truly super about this hockey legend is that he is a cancer survivor.

In 1993 Mario was having the season of his career and was close to establishing a new National Hockey League (NHL) scoring record. Then, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, now known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

A cancer of the blood, Hodgkin’s lymphoma develops in the lymph system, part of the body’s immune system. There are two kinds of lymphomas: non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s. Both types of lymphoma have similar symptoms and characteristics, which include swollen lymph nodes, fever, night sweats and weight loss.

Mario had discovered a swollen lymph node on the back of his neck that was determined to be cancerous. After its removal he underwent radiation therapy, one of the procedures used to treat this cancer. But, on the morning of March 2, 1993, Mario finished his last radiation treatment, took a plane to Philadelphia, and scored a goal and an assist against the Philadelphia Flyers. Talk about keeping cancer in check!

Mario is now 20 years cancer-free and his personal experience with cancer led him to create his own foundation.

“My battle with Hodgkin’s disease in 1993 made me realize how fragile life can be,” he said. continue reading ...


Cancer survivor and Olympian goes for gold

Written by Community Health Network on 2/12/2014 9:00:00 PM

Very few of the Olympians competing in Sochi can say they are cancer survivors. Nordic combined skier Bryan Fletcher is one of those few. Fletcher had acute lymphoblastic leukemia as a child.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the blood, and the most common form of childhood cancer. Symptoms of ALL include fever, tiredness, bone or joint pain, enlarged lymph nodes and unusual bruising. 

To diagnosis this type of leukemia doctors must perform a blood test to look at the blood cells and bone marrow for abnormalities. A spinal tap may be needed to see if ALL is in the central nervous system of the body. It is a fast-growing cancer of lymphocyte-forming cells called lymphoblasts. When diagnosed it can be treated with medicines and treatments like chemotherapy. 

"As a kid going through chemo, it's something that you always remember and are always going to look back on," said Fletcher in a December interview. "But going through it, I always just wanted to be a normal kid." 

Fletcher now shares his story with children as a volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

"I had a pretty extensive battle, having a stroke and an allergic reaction to some chemotherapy drugs," he said. "But once I was all clear through that, I think I was eight years old, after a two-year remission study to make sure nothing was awry. I didn't really look back on it until I was in high school. I was like, 'Wow, this is motivation.' It's something that pushes me everyday." 

Fletcher applies that motivation to his sport and is going for gold in his first Olympic Games. continue reading ...


The basics of blood cancer

Written by Community Health Network on 2/9/2014 9:15:00 PM

Blood cancer specialist, Dr. Sumeet BhatiaSumeet Bhatia, M.D., is a board certified medical oncologist, hematologist and internal medicine specialist. Dr. Bhatia is also certified as an MD Anderson Cancer Network™ physician at the Community Regional Cancer Center in Indianapolis.

Every four minutes in America someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. These types of cancers include leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, as well as many other rare blood and bone marrow disorders. As a medical oncologist treating these cancers at Community Regional Cancer Care Center, Dr. Bhatia says he feels very optimistic when treating these types of cancer. Dr. Bhatia helps break down the types and gives us the basics on blood cancer.

Is there a typical age that someone gets cancer of the blood?

These cancers do not respect age. Cancers of the blood affect the youngest and the oldest of people, and many in between. Last year in Indiana, 2,910 cases of lymphoma, leukemia or myeloma were diagnosed and 1,220 people died. A quarter of those cases were diagnosed in children and teens. Leukemia remains the most common type of childhood cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the third most common type of cancer among children.

What are the most common blood cancer types?

Leukemia can come on suddenly and makes the individual very sick very fast. Older patients with leukemia often experience back pain that doesn’t subside, fatigue and bleeding. Chronic leukemia may even be detected accidentally when the person has fever and enlarged spleen or swollen stomach.

Both Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are characterized by nights sweats. These patients may not initially present with any other symptoms, but lab tests are used to help make a diagnosis. continue reading ...


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