The following interview with Keri Weise is part of our on-going educational series called “#WeCanICan: Beat Cancer with Cord Blood” in support of World Cancer Day which is celebrated every year on February 4th.
Keri is living proof of cord blood’s ability to successfully treat cancer.
Save the Cord Foundation: When were you first diagnosed with cancer and what type of cancer was it?
Keri: I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on August 5th, 2014. I had gone into the urgent care clinic because I knew I was anemic, and I had tickets to a Paul McCartney show that night. I didn't think I was going to be well enough to attend, so I went in to clinic hoping they could give me a shot of iron, or something. Two days later after "seeing some funny cells in my blood," I went in for a bone marrow biopsy and the doctor said - "well, we are here to find out what kind of cancer you have." I was shocked to say the least. I went home and prayed that I would at least have a chance to fight. I went in the next day and found out I had ALL, which is pretty rare in adults, and was admitted immediately after my appointment and started treatment that day.
Save the Cord Foundation: Why was cord blood offered as a treatment choice for you? Were you participating in a clinical trial?
Keri: I fortunately had a lot of matches, both cord blood and bone marrow. Looking back, I can see that they were trying from the start to get me to transplant, because 1) I was relatively healthy (minus the cancer), 2) I responded very well to treatment, and 3) my gene that had mutated and grown had transformed back to normal and that was a good prognostic indicator. My doctors at the University of Minnesota ultimately chose a perfectly matched 6/6 cord blood unit for my transplant. I was also given the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial but, in my case, this required switching my donor about a week before I was scheduled for transplant to a 4/6 match that was expanded, as part of the clinical trial. But, I was uncomfortable with the lower matching, so I asked to be switched back to the 6/6. I asked why they wanted to switch to the 4/6 match and why they had chosen that cord, and they simply replied that the algorithm they wrote had changed. I'm glad I went with that 6/6 match, because I am here today and living life.
Save the Cord Foundation: How was your cord blood transplant different from your experience with chemo and other methods of treatment?
Keri: Transplant was very much the same, but different in intensity than my previous three rounds of chemo. I had three rounds of Hyper CVAD and 6 rounds of intrathecal chemo before transplant that got me into complete remission. Most of the same chemo I had previously were what I received before transplant, although my doctor called this dosage an "atomic bomb" of chemo. I also had eight rounds of total body radiation before the transplant. All of this combined completely wiped out my own immune system. Because of the much higher doses, I was a lot sicker after. For every round of treatment and for transplant, I had to be hospitalized because I had zero white cell count. I was in the hospital around 100 days between August - December 2014. It all happened very quickly. I had my transplant only four months after diagnosis.
Save the Cord Foundation: What is your advice to those currently diagnosed with cancer?
Keri: My advice would be to listen to your doctors and trust that the path they put you on is the right one. But it is also very important to be your own advocate, and to fight for what you think is right and best for you. Remember to take care of yourself by keeping moving when you feel up to it and asking for help when you need it. My mantra has been throughout - this too shall pass.
Save the Cord Foundation: What is your advice to parents and doctors who are skeptical about cord blood?
Keri: My advice would be to educate yourself and learn about all the lives that cord blood can save! I am here today because a mom donated the cord of her son, who was born somewhere in the Central Time Zone in 2012. There's a mom and son out there that literally saved my life because they donated their cord blood! Every day I am thankful for them and for the second chance at life that they've given me.
Cord blood is generally considered medical waste, a.k.a garbage, but it literally saved my life! I cannot ever thank the people out there enough that have chosen to donate their cords.
Our team at Save the Cord Foundation wishes to thank Keri for sharing her amazing story with our readers.
Please share her story with others and let’s encourage every expectant parent to consider how they will #SaveTheCord.
Here are the main points to remember:
Educating parents is only part of the challenge. We must also educate health professionals and key decision makers in government. Public donation programs are too few and far between. The majority of hospitals do not have a donation program for cord blood. Yet, when you hear a story like Keri’s, you wonder why? Why is there not a public donation program in every hospital? Good question! The answer is often simple – awareness. Lack of awareness leads to lack of interest and, of course, lack of funding. If we want to win the battle against cancer, we need to invest in more cord blood donation programs and encourage hybrid banks who can help fill the gaps.
Learn more about your options for saving cord blood. Follow our Step-by-Step cord blood guide for parents which looks at both donation and private storage options.
Meet other cancer survivors from our #WeCanICan: Beat Cancer with Cord Blood series:
Let's bust some cord blood myths!!! The experts have spoken! Here is your chance to learn the facts on this life-saving medical resource. Discover our new educational video series: Cord Blood Myths - BUSTED!
Save the Cord Foundation and Cord Blood Association (CBA) have come together for an exclusive educational project designed to dispel some of the most common myths or misunderstandings regarding cord blood. Working as a team, we interviewed key leaders and experts in the cord blood industry and several cord blood transplant recipients. The questions were collected and curated by CBA. The interviews were led by Charis Ober, Executive Director of Save the Cord Foundation, during the inaugral Cord Blood Connect meeting in Miami, Florida. To date, we have produced 9 videos highlighting a selection of the common cord blood myths provided by CBA.
We recommend you begin exploring this educational series by watching this interview with Dr. Colleen Delaney and her patient, Gregg Gordon.
Share the Science with Ed Brindle: "Proper Lab Sanitization for the Cord Blood Processing Laboratory"
Save the Cord Foundation and Mediware, Inc. are proud to welcome Ed Brindle for our next edition of Share the Science on June 26th, 2018. Share the Science is a free webinar series focused on the cord blood industry and the latest research in this field. As always, we invite both health professionals and the general public to join us for this unique online educational series.
Collecting cord blood is simple. However, just like the collection of organs for transplant there are several rules that must be followed in order to ensure the quality and safety of the collection. When these criteria are not met, it can put patients at risk, make the collection useless or potentially destroy the collection. Keeping the cord blood processing laboratory clean, sanitized, and disinfected is crucial to product quality and safety. Although there is industry guidance for cleaning procedures, laboratory practices often vary depending on location, regulatory requirements, product type, and facility design. In addition, cord blood banks must always have an eye on the future and the potential new applications for cord blood stem cells in regenerative medicine, immunotherapy, expansion, etc. These future applications will have new requirements, yet the cord blood to be used for those applications is probably being collected now. Hence, there is a constant need to be one step ahead of the requirements and to think strategically about your cord blood bank's collection processing in the laboratory.
How can your cord blood bank be prepared for the new demands of the industry? Imagine the disappointment if one of your clients who required their collection in the future for one of these new therapies was refused simply because the processing did not meet requirements. Are you providing the best in cord blood processing for your clients and potential patients?
In this edition of Share the Science, we welcome Ed Brindle who is Director of Quality and Regulatory Affairs for Insception Lifebank, co-chair of both the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) standards committee and the Cord Blood Processing Standards’ Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) committee. He will highlight the best practices used by successful cord blood processing laboratories and illustrates how you can implement them at your facility. The discussion will also look to the future and consider the implications of potential advances in cord research on your lab's cord blood collection criteria and processing.
As an attendee of this webinar, you will also have an opportunity to ask questions directly to Mr. Brindle.
Highlights of this webinar will include:
Share the Science
“How to Ensure Proper Lab Sanitization for
Cord Blood Processing Laboratory”
Tuesday, June 26th, 2018 2pm CST
Free to register. Open to the public.
About the Speaker
This informative session is presented by Ed Brindle. With more than 20 years combined experience in clinical laboratory sciences and cellular therapies both in United Kingdom and Canada, Mr. Brindle is the Director of Quality and Regulatory Affairs for Insception Lifebank. Mr. Brindle is also co-chair of both the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) standards committee and the Cord Blood Processing Standards’ Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) committee.
Mr. Brindle is a Qualified NetCord FACT Cord Blood Processing Inspector and actively carries out inspections of International FACT Accredited Cord Blood Banks for compliance to current NetCord FACT Standards. He is also an active member of the Cord Blood Processing standards committee. In addition, Mr. Brindle is active as a Cord Blood and CT assessor with the AABB. He routinely carries out the assessment of various National and International Cell therapy facilities to ensure compliance with the current AABB Cellular Therapy Standards.
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We wish to thank Ed Brindle for volunteering his time to speak on
Share the Science and sharing his valuable insight on cord blood collection processing.
We also wish to thank our generous sponsors, Mediware Inc., who continue
to support cord blood education through our “Share the Science” series.
Explore the Share the Science Archive:
Share the Science continues to be a popular series within the cord blood community and beyond. We welcome your input on the series and suggestions for future speakers. Give your feedback here.
Previous Share the Science presentations have been archived for your reference. Discover the work of leading scientists and cord blood industry experts through this educational series. View the archive now.
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