Part 1 in our on-going series “#WeCanICan: Beat Cancer with Cord Blood” (in association with World Cancer Day)
Cancer picked the wrong guy when it chose Nathan Mumford ! A 3-time cancer survivor and cord blood transplant recipient, Nathan is living proof that we can beat cancer with cord blood (#WeCanICan).
#WeCanICan: Beat Cancer with Cord Blood
At Save the Cord Foundation, you often hear us talking about the wonders of cord blood and the fact that it is used to treat 80+ diseases. You have seen us refer to wonderful public cord blood donation programs around the world and family banks that are pushing research in amazing ways to potentially treat cerebral palsy, hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, autism. . . . Yet, so often, these factoids and news announcements just become words—words without meaning.
Nathan Mumford’s story will change all of that.
Nathan Mumford, 3 time cancer survivor and cord blood transplant recipient.
We would like to introduce you to an amazing individual whose life story is nothing short of incredible. Nathan is from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. In 1988, at the age of 8, his life changed forever. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and so began a lifetime struggle with various forms of cancer. At the time, doctors told his parents that Nathan had a 40% chance of survival if he underwent chemotherapy. So, he did.
This was the first time anyone in Nathan’s family had ever had to deal with cancer. It was a new world filled with numerous challenges and questions for Nathan and his family. Finally, when Nathan reached the 6th grade, doctors gave him and his family the good news. He had won the fight against Hodgkin’s. Nathan could focus on being a kid, going to school and starting life. He and his family were elated.
Then, in 2004, Nathan again became sick at the age of twenty-four, just after finishing his studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Doctors diagnosed him with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and the outlook was not encouraging. Unfortunately, his doctors explained that he had 0% chance of surviving and that traditional treatments wouldn’t help. But, Nathan fought anyway.
He was in the hospital for six months hoping to find a bone marrow donor. No donor could be found. His oncologist, Dr. Mary Laughlin , suggested that he should consider participating in a clinical trial being run at the time which used cord blood to treat leukemia. The study was being run in collaboration with Dr. Pablo Rubenstein from the National Cord Blood Program. She explained that even though there had been several proven successes that it was considered experimental at the time.
Nathan seized the opportunity and never looked back. He received a single cord blood transplant and in 2006 his doctors declared him cancer-free!
WHY WOULD A DOCTOR CHOOSE CORD BLOOD OVER BONE MARROW?
Today, cord blood transplants are no longer considered experimental and they are routinely performed in patients suffering from blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. Cord blood is recognized as viable treatment for 80+ diseases
A FEW FACTS:
-Cord blood stem cells have broader match criteria than those required for bone marrow donors. Unlike bone marrow, cord blood is readily available when needed, if collected and banked.
-Harvesting stem cells from bone marrow requires a surgical procedure. Cord blood stem cells are readily obtained from the umbilicus and placenta at the time of delivery and cryogenically stored for future use by the donor, family member, or an unknown recipient.
-Cord blood has a broader match potential than bone marrow, which means that the patient and donor do not have to be a “perfect match.”
-Cord blood stem cells are more resistant to infection, have fewer side effects after the transplant and require fewer transplant drugs than bone marrow stem cells.
-Studies suggest that cord blood may also have a better ability to generate blood cells than bone marrow given that there are nearly 10 times as many blood producing cells in cord blood.
For Nathan, the cord blood transplant was successful and his participation in this important clinical trial would help pave the way for others suffering from blood cancers worldwide. While the transplant seemed to be working and Nathan’s family was overjoyed on the progress he was making, Nathan’s mother, who had been battling cancer herself, lost her battle with Breast Cancer. A year and a half after his mother died, Nathan’s older brother and best friend, Daymon Mumford, was tragically shot in the chest and died. Needless to say, Nathan found himself facing a whole new set of challenges given the loss of his mother and brother.
Nathan (sitting on his mother’s lap) and his family.
Nathan’s tenacity for life has been nothing short of miraculous. His will-power and his family’s continued selfless dedication combined with his doctor’s foresight to tap into cord blood’s unique healing properties literally saved him. He is with us today thanks to a cord blood transplant.
Yet, Nathan’s story does not end there. He went on to marry in 2013 and a year later received more bad news from his doctors. He was diagnosed with colon cancer. This was very different from the previous battles with cancer. This cancer was most likely a secondary disease caused by the long term use of chemotherapy previously. This time, Nathan and his doctors agreed that he was stronger and could fight the cancer using traditional methods. Nathan spent most of 2014 fighting the colon cancer. He won and attributes much of his success to the loving support of his wife and family.
Nathan Mumford (post cord blood transplant) and his wife, Camille
Nathan now refers this third battle with cancer as his “3-Peat.” We are happy to call him a 3-Peat cancer survivor!
It is impossible to learn of Nathan’s story without getting to know Nathan himself. His experiences with cancer have given him a unique perspective on life and the world. His participation in the clinical trial using cord blood to treat leukemia allowed him to see first-hand how advances in medicine happen. His faith and strong sense of family has allowed him to persevere throughout each of these bouts with cancer. He knows he is blessed but he remains humble. His priority now is to help others suffering from cancer to stay on track with treatments and focus on life’s joys.
Nathan recently commented that he wants to “Give back to the cancer community in any way I can; and to allow cancer patients and their loved ones to benefit from my experiences. I attempt to share my battle with cancer, my mother’s loss to breast cancer, and the recent passing of my brother, Daymon, as vehicles to inspire others.”
He recently launched a new chapter in his life. He founded the KEM Foundation, inspired and named after his mother, Karen E. Mumford, who cared for him so dearly during his first two battles with cancer.
The foundation is based in Cleveland, Ohio and focuses on helping cancer patients find the support they need to get through treatments while still enjoying life. Some of the group’s most successful programs include:
- Karen Cares: Provide a day of pampering to groups of women afflicted with cancer.
- Healthy Spaces: Creates healthy living spaces for cancer patients from The Cleveland Clinic, Metro Hospitals, and University Hospitals to encourage them through their recovery.
- From the Heart: An annual event of holiday giving, support and love focused primarily on helping children who suffer from cancer and blood disorders in the Cleveland & NYC area’s.
Nathan Mumford is living proof that we must never accept the odds but stay focused on the goal and persevere. He is living proof that cord blood saves lives and is key to the battle against cancer.
He is an inspiration to us and we know that he will be an inspiration to you, too.
Thank you, Nathan, for all that you do and thank you for sharing your story with Save the Cord Foundation.
Learn more about the KEM Foundation here.
Learn more about our on-going series “# WeCanICan : Beat Cancer with Cord Blood” and register to be a part of our Parents community. We are committed to cord blood education for parents and the medical community worldwide. Show your support by sharing this information with others, especially expectant parents.