Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center patient Sami reunites with her care team to discuss being treated at MSK and how she is doing now.
Dr. O’Reilly: Good evening. I’m very pleased to introduce Samantha Stanley, who formerly got a transplant here at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I’m also happy to introduce Dr. Farid Boulad, who most of you know as well as Dr. Susan Prockop also. Now she is hailing from Boston and the rest of us from down here in New York. So, what we’re going to do is basically just ask a few questions and open it up to Sammy to expostulate as she sees fit.
At the time, you got this diagnosis of having an EBV lymphoma, you were in high school getting ready for college. And I suppose the question would really come at that particular time is how was that for you and what were you thinking about at that particular time, what were you worried about and how do you overall cope with that?
Sami: Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me here. It was actually a very strange thing for me at 18. I had a whole future in front of me all planned out. And when I went into the hospital all I was thinking was, “Am I going to be back in time for play rehearsal?” And when I got the diagnosis, it was absolutely nowhere in the realm of where I thought it was going to go at the time.
Dr. O’Reilly: Do you have a sense of why you or your folks chose Memorial?
Sami: We were referred there mainly because of you, Dr. O’Reilly. My treatment was from what I knew really experimental. I had common variable immune deficiency, so they knew that you had specialized in some treatments, bone marrow transplants that would be beneficial to my situations.
Dr. Susan Prockop: What do you remember about your first impressions of Memorial Sloan Kettering?
Sami: I remember it being very big and intimidating compared to the smaller New Jersey Hospital that I was at. But I do remember feeling really safe when I got there. And I remember meeting Dr. O’Reilly and thinking he was a little scary at first. But then I realized he was really a teddy bear. And yeah, you Dr. Prockop, you were feisty I remember that. You were very feisty about the day-to-day and my treatment and you really communicated with my mom.
Dr. Susan Prockop: You were pretty feisty yourself Sam.
Sami: Oh, yes.
Dr. Susan Prockop: You were pretty feisty yourself.
Sami: Yes, I know. I do remember getting amazing care from all of you, from the nursing staff and I never questioned whether I was in good hands and neither did my parents.
Dr. Susan Prockop: Do you remember any of the specifics of the treatments you got, or did it become sort of a blur?
Sami: I do recall getting a decent amount of chemo in preparation for the bone marrow transplant, but also because the cancer had turned into leukemia at that point. Beyond that, I would say, I was in a little bit of a fog.
Dr. Susan Prockop: Tell us a little bit about where you are now?
Sami: Now, I am 35. I have a 10-year-old daughter. I am in the career of customer service and logistics. And my daughter’s name is Madeline. And I was not supposed to be able to have kids I was told, and here she is. She is amazing.
Dr. Farid Boulad: So, Sammy, for your transplants your donor was your HLE match, your matched sister Rebecca. How did that bring you together any closer, did it change your relationship with her and what did you get to thank her for her gift of life?
Sami: It definitely did bring us closer together. And in a way it made me appreciate her more. I mean, I think her probably at least once a year when it comes around my anniversary of my transplant.
Dr. Farid Boulad: And just for the record, you know that both of you guys have the same DNA right now in your blood?
Sami: Yeah, that’s really cool.
Dr. Farid Boulad: Anything else you’d like to say to other people who might be facing a transplant or things like that?
Sami: I would say whatever precautions that the doctors tell you to take you take them, because at that point having no immune system, there is nothing worth the risk.
Dr. O’Reilly: I thought one of the advices you’re going to give to other patients is be feisty you know?
Sami: Be feisty.
Dr. O’Reilly: There you go.
Sami: Yeah, keep your fight.
Dr. O’Reilly: So, I’d like to thank Sammy in particular, because of the fact she has got good insights, she has always been a pretty keen observer. She knew how to pluck our last nerve and we probably knew how to pluck hers as well, get her all sorts of aggravated. I’d like to also thank Susan. I didn’t realize this Sammy, but you were her first patient when she was a fellow with us doing all sorts of transplants. So, this was -- you were a key player in that regard. And then my good friend Dr. Boulad just keeps going and keeps doing his thing. But thank you very much. It was wonderful.
Sami: It was great seeing all you guys.