Armand "Buddy" Duseau, Jr.'s battle with a deadly form of cancer began in April 2007, back when Buddy thought his biggest health concern was a bad knee. At this time, Buddy and his wife, Nancy, learned that instead of recovering from joint replacement surgery, Buddy would be fighting for his life.
Routine blood tests performed by the orthopedic surgeon revealed that Buddy's platelet count was low, so he was referred to , medical director of Cooley Dickinson Hospital's Cancer Care Program. Buddy was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a disease of the bone marrow that leads to low blood counts, and often, leukemia. The prognosis was bleak.
Two years later, Buddy and Nancy credit Dr. Bowers with giving Buddy a chance at continued life, and consider him part of their family. The Duseaus appreciate the excellent care Buddy received from Dr. Bowers at Cooley Dickinson and are also grateful to him for connecting Buddy with specialists at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center who work in collaboration with Cooley Dickinson physicians. This collaboration provides cancer patients access to the state-of-the-art technology and talented physicians at Cooley Dickinson, as well as expertise and resources at the Mass General Cancer Center.
Buddy is one of the first Cooley Dickinson patients to be referred to Mass General Cancer Center, as the collaboration between the two hospitals is still in its infancy. At the Cancer Center, Buddy and Nancy met Drs. Eyal Attar and Yi-Bin Chen and their team of nurses, social workers, physical therapists and pharmacists. Led by Drs. Attar, Chen and Bowers, this comprehensive team helped Buddy through a rigorous stem cell transplant on Oct. 28 and 29, 2009.
Nancy and Buddy rave about the care they received in Boston from nurses and doctors alike. Dr. Chen even gave Nancy his home and cell phone numbers and told her to "call any time." Nancy reflects, "That's how responsive and attentive they are," adding, "They let us know what is possible, what might happen, and they guide us through every day."
Dr. Attar says Buddy is a fine example of how well the collaboration is working. "Buddy developed MDS and received outstanding care from Dr. Bowers. However, the only known MDS treatment for a possible cure is a stem cell transplant, so Dr. Bowers appropriately referred Buddy here to our center. We made some recommendations that Dr. Bowers implemented to prepare Buddy for transplantation. Mainly, Dr. Bowers had to get Buddy's disease under control and into remission. Once that happened, we were able to admit Buddy to Mass General for the transplant."
Specialists at Mass General Cancer Center determined that Buddy's sister, Doraleen McArthur of Scotia, N.Y., was the most appropriate stem cell donor candidate. Buddy underwent chemotherapy treatments at the Cancer Center to eliminate cancerous blood cells from his immune system and to decrease the likelihood that his immune system would reject his sister's blood cells.
Following the transplant, Buddy faced a month-long recovery at Mass General. The transplant date also marked the start of a 100-day quarantine for Buddy, aimed at keeping him away from germs. Feb. 6 will mark Buddy's 100th day following the transplant, and he and Nancy plan to celebrate, perhaps, by going to their favorite restaurant.
Once per week, Buddy visits Dr. Bowers at Cooley Dickinson for blood work and transfusions, and once per week, he also travels to Mass General Cancer Center, where Drs. Attar and Chen and their team of specialists analyze the data and oversee his follow-up treatment and care. According to Dr. Attar, "The patients are benefiting the most, which is the entire objective of our collaboration. Cooley Dickinson has a fine cadre of oncologists, and we know that patients receive excellent care there."
Buddy and Nancy feel they couldn't have had a better situation – the comforts of home and family, the convenience of weekly treatments at Cooley Dickinson and immediate advice and expertise from specialists at Mass General Cancer Center. Buddy says the care at both hospitals has been "awe-inspiring."