Blasucci was running out of options when he came to UC Davis Medical
Center in 1999. Twenty years earlier, he had fought Hodgkin's disease,
a cancer of the lymphatic tissue, to a standstill. With aggressive
treatment and scrupulous attention to good health, the disease stayed
in remission, out of sight, almost out of mind, while Blasucci started
a family and a business.
some of his old symptoms came back. He lost weight and felt tired.
One day when he was on a plane, he sneezed and broke a rib - not
a typical event for the hardy New Yorker. Tests revealed his worst
fears. He had advanced (stage IV) non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer
very similar to the Hodgkin's disease he had battled earlier. His
prognosis was grim.
lymphoma is a common cancer that occurs when malignant white blood
cells change and multiply. They crowd out healthy cells and create
tumors that cause the lymph nodes to swell - one of the disease's
first noticeable signs. Better therapies have improved survival
rates, but for unknown reasons, incidence of the disease has doubled
in the last 20 years. An estimated 65,000 Americans will be diagnosed
with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or its more rare counterpart, Hodgkin's
disease, this year. Another 27,000 will die from it.
told Blasucci the lymphoma had spread to his chest and was, as he
describes, "eating away at my ribcage." He went through
11 cycles of conventional chemotherapy, with so-so results. He took
a new drug that stimulates the immune system to attack lymphoma
cells. It shrank his tumor but tests showed the disease was still
alive and active in his body.
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conventional therapy fails, cancer patients come to the radioimmuno-
therapy program at the UC Davis Cancer Center.