Two-Time Blood Cancer Survivor Shares His Story

3 min read  |  September 20, 2023  | 
Disponible en Español |

Just months after taking part in the Dolphins Challenge Cancer, Eddie Nurquez had a familiar feeling.

“I started to feel very ill, very weak,” Eddie says.

Eddie, a lymphoma survivor, was later diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood and bone marrow cancer. Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., Chief of Hematology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, says it’s critical to confirm a blood cancer diagnosis in order to get the right treatment.

“Research that we’ve led here at Sylvester has actually shown that diagnosis can change in one out of five people from the initial diagnosis they receive at their local hospital to when they go to a specialty center like Sylvester,” says Dr. Sekeres.

Sylvester’s team approach offers patients the most cutting-edge therapies.

“We meet every single week in a room to discuss every new patient that we see. So, when you come for a second opinion, you’re really getting eight second opinions with all of the doctors in a specialty group getting together and agreeing on the right treatment course,” Dr. Sekeres says.

Eddie needed a bone marrow transplant. Sylvester’s NCI-designation gave him access to a clinical trial that put him in remission so he could receive the transplant.

Benefits of Participating in Clinical Trials

Although some people may be hesitant to participate in a clinical trial, Dr. Sekeres says there are benefits, including receiving medication that may one day become the standard of care, plus paving the way for better treatments for other blood cancer patients.

“What most people don’t recognize is the fact that when you go on a clinical trial, at the very minimum you always receive the standard of care. You’re never getting inferior care. Sometimes you’re getting better care and sometimes you’re getting treatment options that just simply aren’t available to other people,” Dr. Sekeres explains. “You’re helping not only yourself, but you’re helping future generations of people with cancer.”

“You owe it to yourself to find the right doctor and the right place to give you the latest and the greatest that’s going to give you the better chance of survival,” says Eddie.

“I was so happy that he achieved a remission while he was on that clinical trial,” Dr. Sekeres says.

Eddie had the transplant and is a two-time blood cancer survivor. His wife, Jessica Nurquez, calls the Sylvester team – family.

“The nurses and the doctors that are just so caring for us and how we’re doing, not just from a medical standpoint, but how are you really doing as a person,” says Jessica.

Both are thankful for this second chance at life.

“Thank you for putting me in the best possible place so I can receive the care I needed to survive,” Eddie says.

Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., is Chief of the Division of Hematology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. Learn more about blood and bone marrow cancers on the Sylvester website.

Video transcript compiled by Janna Ross for ‘Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine,’ a series of health care-related stories airing regularly on WPLG Local 10.  For more stories like this one, visit UHealth’s YouTube channel.

Tags: blood and bone marrow cancers, bone marrow transplant, Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, focusing on you, hematologist, leukemia, lymphoma, MDS, myelodysplastic syndromes, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

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