September 1, 2010

Cancer back in remission for Yale's Schwartz

Mandi Schwartz (photo: Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Mandi Schwartz and her family received the good news they have been waiting for on Tuesday: Based on her biopsy results, she is back in remission.

This is the third time the Yale center has gone into remission since she was initially diagnosed with cancer in December of 2008. This time, the plan is for her to receive a stem cell transplant designed to help her win her battle with acute myeloid leukemia once and for all.

The transplant, which involves a breakthrough procedure developed by one of her doctors at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, will be scheduled as soon as possible.

"We are relieved to hear that Mandi is back in remission," said Rick Schwartz, her father. "The support we have received during this difficult time has been inspiring. We thank everyone who has kept Mandi in their thoughts and prayers, and encourage everyone to continue raising awareness of the need for bone marrow donors and umbilical cord blood donors to save the lives of all patients who need transplants like the one Mandi will receive."

On Aug. 11 -- just 16 days before her originally scheduled transplant date – a biopsy indicated that Schwartz's cancer had returned. The transplant had to be postponed as she underwent another round of chemotherapy. 

After being discharged from the hospital when that round finished on Aug. 19, she returned to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's University of Washington Medical Center on Aug. 25 with a high fever. She is currently being treated and monitored there, and that is where her transplant will take place.

Schwartz, a center from Wilcox, Sask., needs a stem cell transplant -- essentially, a new blood and immune system -- to survive. Stem cells have the ability to change into any of the body's cell types. In her case, they will be used to give her new blood cells and new immune cells. Her current immune system, along with the cancerous cells, will be wiped out by chemotherapy and radiation.