Astacia Walsh is a bright and down-to-earth person. She’s a joy to talk to, and her tenacious personality is inspiring. When she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the news was unexpected. Despite the shock of finding out that she had cancer, Astacia and her care team got to work right away.
It started when Astacia went to see Rose allergy and immunology specialist Dr. Mark Ebadi. During the appointment, a scan detected an obstruction in her chest. Shortly after, she was sent to Rose oncologist Dr. Alan Feiner where she was diagnosed with recurrent Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“Dr. Feiner is just an awesome, wonderful doctor,” she says. She began her treatment with Dr. Feiner within the first week after her diagnosis.
In addition to surgery and specimen collection, Astacia underwent chemotherapy treatment once every two weeks, for three hours each time. After six months of chemotherapy, she was grateful to find that she still wasn’t experiencing any significant side effects.
“It wasn’t horrible,” she says of her chemotherapy.
After treatment, a PET scan showed promising results. But just five months later, the cancer came back. This time they would try a new form of treatment–stem cell transplant.
A doctor at Rose’s sister hospital, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, would perform the autologous transplantation.
The first step, Astacia explains, is for doctors/surgeons to remove her own stem cells. Once removed, an intensive chemotherapy regimen is administered. Finally, the stem cells are reintroduced into the body where they can begin the healing process.
For Astacia, her intensive chemotherapy took place during the first week of June 2014. Her stem cells were reintroduced during the second week of June, and she has been healing since then. On the first of August, she returned to work.
“It’s a nice kind of notice,” she says of the attention she receives at work. The thoughtfulness and concern of others is a comforting source of support, she says.
“I just love Dr. Feiner,” says Astacia. She credits her medical team for providing top-notch care.
Given the complexity of her treatment, it is important that doctors and surgeons at various facilities work together to coordinate with each other.
“Dr. Feiner has been pretty awesome at keeping doctors on task,” she says joyfully. She appreciates how smart and involved Dr. Feiner is, explaining that at one point he researched medications to find something that would help with the inexplicable itching she was experiencing. It was the extra amount of effort that meant so much to her.
However, Astacia does have some advice for anyone who might be experiencing something similar. In addition to receiving quality care, she’s learned that her own positivity can have a profound impact on her battle with cancer.
“Listen to what [the doctors/surgeons] say might happen, but stay positive,” she says.
The Rose “Surviving Well” calendar is a 12-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians and inspirational stories from our patients. Astacia is our survivor for January.