Hematologic (Blood-related) Cancer

Hematologic (Blood-related) cancer is cancer that starts in the tissue that forms blood cells (called bone marrow). Blood cells develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. Hematologic cancer is treated by specialists in the Leukemia Cancer Program and Blood and Marrow Transplant Program.

Fred Roth, cancer survivor

Fred Roth knows firsthand about lengthy hospital stays. When diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), he spent 90 days in the Huntsman Cancer Institute hospital that included 25 days of high-dose chemotherapy before a bone marrow transplant.

Read Fred's story.

Molley Withers

"My experience was great.  Even going through what I was I always felt cared for and safe.  Everyone from the schedulers to Dr. Boyer went above and beyond to always make sure I had what I needed.  Help was only a phone call away.  I am now healthy and in remission and still receiving great follow up care a year later." -Mollie Withers

Rohn Hart

My wife Rebecca and I were on vacation in Ashland, Oregon, when she made me go to the ER there because I was getting fevers at night. Ever since that day, when we first heard that we might need a hematologist / oncologist, we received layer after layer of bad news. At every branch where news might have been good vs bad, it was the unwelcome bad. I was transferred from Ashland to a non-specialty hospital in Medford, where they didn’t know what was wrong but wanted to keep me because I was “the most interesting patient in the facility.” I finally escaped back to Salt Lake (Against Medical Advice, but that’s another story) and checked into the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) where we received the really bad news that I had Acute Myeloid Leukemia and would be in the hospital, oh, maybe 50 days. (Yup. Five- zero.) But at least we had a great room, good food, and a truly wonderful staff.  Truly wonderful, compassionate, empathetic, and—best of all—competent. No one at HCI thought I was “interesting;” they knew I was really sick with not just AML but also multiple chromosomal abnormalities and they knew how to treat the collection of maladies that my doctor called “worst possible case scenario” leukemia: first chemo, then a stem cell transplant. If possible... If I were a candidate... If a donor match could be found.

So there we were, living in the hospital, me getting chemo and hoping a transplant could happen in the future, trapped in a room at the mercy of whoever walked in the door. We could hear the swish of the hand sanitizer outside the room, then maybe a soft knock, and the door would open.  Sometimes it opened to reveal one of our friends (hooray!) but it was usually a doctor or nurse or technician or aide stepping in. Doctors often had papers in their coat pockets which they would pull out to deliver more dire news. Then one day our luck changed and we got our first really good news in the whole ordeal: Devon, my only sibling, was a perfect transplant match for me. She was a very willing donor, she came to Salt Lake the minute she was needed, and with her stem cells she saved her little brother’s life. We love you, Devon.  And we love you, too, HCI. -Rand Hart

Brandon Plewe

"I was admitted to the hospital in April 2009. The doctors I initially saw knew something was seriously wrong, but they weren't sure exactly what it was. It looked like some type of blood cancer, probably leukemia. But when further tests concluded it was multiple myeloma, the doctors suggested I go to the University of Utah and Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) to receive my treatment.

"The doctor who became my oncologist at HCI later told me the diagnosing physicians did not really think I had much of a chance when I was sent to him, but he always knew I was curable. I was just about as close to death as you can come when I made it to the BMT inpatient unit. I was scared out of my mind. But I also had faith, thanks to the doctors' reassurance, that I could get better. And I did. We went with an aggressive treatment to attack an aggressive disease that had ravaged my body, fracturing every single vertebra, leaving me unable to walk or even sit up on my own for months. My kidneys almost shut down completely due to all of the calcium passing through them from my bone deterioration.

"Those first few weeks of my diagnosis were some of the scariest of my life, but the doctors acted quickly and efficiently to get me back on the road to recovery. I always felt like they had my best interest at heart, which made me want to help out when they asked if I would take part in a clinical study, even when I found out my treatment would not be any different and it would just serve to help out those who would be facing this same disease in the future.

"Through the weeks, months, and now years, the nurses, doctors, physician assistants, and all the staff have become one of the strongest parts of my support group. When I go up to the clinic for my routine visits I honestly feel like I'm visiting my family and I'm happy to be there. It makes it so much easier to deal with such a heavy burden when you know you are surrounded by the strong arms of people who are always willing to help hold you up. Even though some of my darkest days were spent with the BMT staff, it means so much to know that they were always there for me and will always be there for me in some way or other, no matter what."

Spring of 2016 will make 6 years in full remission for me.  My wife and I now have a beautiful little boy who is almost 2 years old.  I am active and healthy and so grateful for all that I have been given.  I believe so much in what the Huntsman group is doing I got a job with the Huntsman Cancer Foundation in 2015.  I feel lucky to spend my time telling my story and spreading the word about the incredible progress being made in cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute right now.  Cancer can be scary, insidious, and downright demoralizing, but I prefer to focus on how it is bringing such wonderful people together to fight it.  I am thrilled to officially be a part of the solution, and I invite you to find out what you can do to help too. -Brandon Plewe

"Nothing fully prepares someone facing a diagnosis of cancer and the treatment that follows, but the comprehensive approach to my care at the BMT clinic, certainly helped to turn my world rightside up again. Through 6 years of nearly continuous treatment, I continue to live well. I'm so grateful for the competent and compassionate care I've received at HCH." -Steven Hope