Dr. Schwartz is licensed in California. He welcomes new patients into his psychology practice on HealthTap and invites you to schedule a virtual consult with him!

It’s been 23 years, one month, and 12 days since my bone marrow transplant in 1993. My diagnosis was acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). I had already endured two years of chemotherapy and radiation. The transplant was my last option. From a casual conversation with my doctor, I had thought I had a 50-percent chance of survival. But two years after I was in remission, I found out that I had misheard. My chance of survival was actually 15 percent.

Cancer, defined

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin multiplying out of control and take over your body. This can lead to a tumorous growth, or to crowding out the normal blood cells in the blood. The latter was my case.

Treatment

The treatment isn’t pretty.

First, there’s chemotherapy: “Poison” that kills both good and bad rapidly dividing cells. So in addition to the cancerous cells, chemotherapy destroys hair, lining of the stomach, and other bodily features that are important, if not essential.

Then there’s radiation: Using X-rays and other forms of radiation to target the cancer cells.

Finally, there’s a bone marrow transplant: Bone marrow is “harvested” from a donor, put into an IV bag (it’s a liquid) and transfused into the patient’s bloodstream.

Perseverance

I’m still here. The match through the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)–meaning it came from someone I didn’t know, who wasn’t related to me–worked. After I got better, I decided I wanted to make a difference in the world. I attended community college, transferred to Columbia University, and earned my Ph.D.

Dr. Schwartz & HealthTap

Along the way I found HealthTap.com. I wonder, if this technology had been around years ago, would it have saved friends who I lost? Would it have changed my experience? After all, it would have had tremendous value to have participated in “virtual consults” with medical experts through a smartphone or computer. Things change; technology changes; times change. And now, the way we care for others is changing. I think about this every time I log in on HealthTap.com.

I’m always available to discuss topics like these and what it is like to get through hard times. You don’t need to have cancer to experience pain and suffering. Please visit if you’d like to talk.

 

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