Adventist Health Castle | Windward Health | Winter 2020

NEWLY RETIRED AND HALFWAY INTO TWO WEEKS of cruising along the Pacific Coast with her husband, Ken, Linda Martin knew something was terribly wrong with her: She could hardly walk and seemed to always have a racing pulse and shortness of breath. The night before they reached Santa Barbara, Linda knew she needed to get off the ship and seek medical attention. She and Ken were on the first tender boat ashore the next morning and caught a taxi to the nearest hospital. “[Because I was] 58 years old and in excellent condition, the triage nurse seemed somewhat skeptical when I told her I thought I was having a heart attack,” Linda says. By then, pain in her chest was radiating down her left arm and into her jaw. The nurse hadn’t even finished putting on all of the EKG leads when it became apparent that Linda’s cardiac symptoms required immediate attention. Shocking diagnosis “After several blood draws, X-rays, EKGs and other tests, the emergency room doctor walked in and said those terrible words that nobody should ever hear,” Linda recalls. “‘We’ve found out what’s wrong with you; you have leukemia. That’s why you’re having these symptoms.’” Linda was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), plus “genetic mutations,” causing it to be particularly virulent, with a 10% survival rate. It was Oct. 3, 2016. She would spend the next 10½ months in California hospitals, where she underwent back-to-back chemotherapy treatments and then, with the help of her oncologist, found a specialist in stem cell transplants for AML patients—her only hope for preventing a recurrence of the disease. After being accepted for a transplant, Linda faced the challenge of finding the right stem cell donor. She has no siblings, and the U.S. and worldwide databases yielded no significant match. Her son Matthew, though not an ideal match, became her donor. Hard to believe Following the transplant, Linda spent another 150 days in the hospital, many of them grueling as her body adapted to her son’s foreign cells. At the end of the ordeal, she could hardly believe her good fortune when her oncologist gave her the news: The transplant was a success, and there was no residual disease present. Oct. 3, 2019, marked three years since Linda’s diagnosis. Finding follow-up care close to home Although Linda is leukemia-free, the L ā ‘ie resident takes immune- suppressant drugs and requires regular blood work to monitor GVH (graft vs. host) symptoms that indicate her body is rejecting the transplant. “I’m not so much in need of an oncologist as I am someone who understands GVH symptoms and complications of a stem cell transplant,” says Linda. That person turned out to be Ryan Tenn, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, a nurse practitioner at Castle Health Clinic of L ā ‘ie, who does Linda’s blood draws and consults with her mainland oncologist when needed. “After my first meeting with Ryan, he took two days to learn about leukemia and transplant patients,” Linda says. “He is enthusiastic, a good listener, and he’s not afraid to say, ‘Let me research this some more; come back tomorrow.’ “Life for me here in L ā ‘ie post-transplant would have been very different and much more challenging if not for Ryan and the team just down the street,” Linda acknowledges. “Castle’s satellite clinics are wonderful for those of us living an hour or more away from town doctors, especially when we are in need of regular or urgent medical care. It’s so convenient, and open on Saturdays too!” Be a donor—save a life Linda has another message to share. “Please consider being a stem cell donor,” she says. “I was lucky to get a second chance.” GIVE LIFE. It’s easy to save someone’s life with a simple, noninvasive procedure similar to a dialysis treatment. Learn more a t . Info Grateful for a second chance— and AH Castle’s team in La‘ie