Eric Aronson’s diagnosis of multiple myeloma started when he jumped off the Cedar Creek Bridge at Norris Lake on vacation.
"Some buddies and I decided to do the jump for fun to show our kids we were still young enough to do it,” he smiles, recalling the memory.
Lingering post-jump spinal pain sent him to a local hospital’s emergency room where imaging tests suggested his T12 vertebra was fractured. The test also showed a concerning lesion on his spine. He traveled back to Cincinnati for a biopsy where the true source of his pain was revealed: stage 1a multiple myeloma. The lesion on his spine had ruptured.
"After that, everything seemed to accelerate,” says Aronson.
He wasn’t satisfied with his first oncology consultation, saying: "There were no options presented—just a five-minute conversation to say, ‘This is what we are going to do.’ It felt too fast. I needed to feel connected to my treatment team and understand what I was facing,” he recalls.
A friend with the Cincinnati chapter of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society connected Aronson to Frank Smith, MD, clinical director for the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute and medical oncologist specializing in hematologic malignancies (i.e., blood cancers). Serendipitously, the UC Cancer Institute had just recruited a leading multiple myeloma clinician-scientist—Elias Anaissie, MD—and a large portion of his sub-specialized team for a new hematologic malignancies treatment and research program.
"We spent an hour on the phone discussing Dr. Anaissie’s philosophy of care and multiple myeloma as a disease. I immediately felt connected to him. It felt like a health care partnership—one where I could trust my doctors but also have a say in my care,” explains Aronson, 47, of Mason.
He and his family quickly agreed that the best myeloma care was right here in Cincinnati.
After a comprehensive pre-treatment evaluation and workup, Aronson was ready to begin treatment. He underwent 13 weeks of chemotherapy to prepare for the bone marrow transplant that would ultimately eradicate/control his cancer.
Bone marrow transplant—also known as a stem cell transplant—replaces damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells. Bone marrow is the soft, fatty tissue inside the bones. Immature stem cells generated in bone marrow give rise to all of blood cells in the body. Multiple myeloma affects a specialized type of infection-fighting white blood cell, known as plasma.
Aronson had stem cells harvested through leukaphereisis at Hoxworth Blood Center, then underwent his transplant about a week later on Jan. 29, 2013, at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He went home—in remission—in mid February.
"I encourage anyone facing a cancer diagnosis to find an oncologist who specializes in your type of cancer to ensure you get the most up-to-date, personalized treatment options,” says Aronson. "I’m thankful exceptional myeloma care happened to be available in my hometown. Between the daily chemotherapy treatments and immune system recovery time from my transplant, I would have been away from my kids and wife for four months if I’d had to travel.”
To learn more about the UC Cancer Institute Hematologic Malignancies Program, visit uccancer.com/blood
. For appointments, call 513-584-4BMT (4268) or 877-745-1BMT (1268).