How a stem cell transplant put me in remission after double-hit lymphoma

After an MRI in 2004 for back pain, my doctor found a cyst on the right side of my stomach that had to come out. A surgeon in Abbeville, Louisiana did a biopsy and found that I had non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphoma in my small intestines. It was stage I, found early. A local oncologist suggested a wait-and-watch approach since the cancer was slow-growing. I sought a second opinion at MD Anderson with Jorge Romaguera, M.D. He also recommended watchful waiting, so I returned home and received scans — at first every three months, then every six months, then once a year for 9 ½ years with no change. Then, in late October 2013, I developed a lump on the right side of my neck. When it was still there a month later, I got a needle biopsy, which showed lymphoma. My local oncologist did a more detailed biopsy, which showed that I had double-hit lymphoma, a rare and aggressive type of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While most lymphomas have just one genetic mutation, double-hit lymphoma has two. My stem cell transplant journey I was told that a stem cell transplant was the only option for curing double-hit lymphoma. Since stem cell transplants are not done in Lafayette, my oncologist referred me to MD Anderson. Typically, age 70 is the cut-off for a stem cell transplant. I was 71. But because of my overall health, my oncologist felt that I may still be a good candidate for a stem cell transplant.  On March 17, 2014, I checked into MD Anderson and underwent a detailed evaluation with Dr. Romaguera. Because there was...