Morning Medical Update Tuesday 9-19-23

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


     Key points from today’s guests:

Mary Bennett, acute myelogenous leukemia patient

  • Mary was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia and underwent a stem cell transplant at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.
  • After the transplant and chemo, the cancer came back. But the news got worse as her daughter, Akasya was diagnosed with aplastic anemia.
  • It was very difficult to see her daughter going through the same types of cancer treatment.
  • Their care teams were the same, which made it a little easier because they both got to know the staff.
  • Both are doing better and they credit the staff, family and friends for wonderful support.

Akasya Bennett, aplastic anemia patient, Mary’s daughter

  • She is doing better now. Going through this with her mother has been helpful in coping.
  • They both use crafts and creativity as an outlet.
  • It was great to have Dr. Muenks as a resource because she could talk to her about concerns without further stressing out her mother.
  • She said she has a whole new outlook on life and her relationship with her mother.

Dr. Joseph McGuirk, director, hematologic malignancies and cellular therapeutics; medical director, blood and marrow transplant, The University of Kansas Cancer Center

  • Relapsing after a bone marrow transplant is a serious situation, but Mary’s recovery has been miraculous.
  • There were no genetic components that tied this mother/daughter cancer together – it was just an unfortunate coincidence.
  • It is extremely rare to be treating a mother/daughter tandem at the same time for two different, unrelated cancers.
  • For those interested in being bone marrow donors, get on the registry.
  • There is a dire need for donors, particular younger people and those from ethnic backgrounds.

Dr. Elizabeth Muenks, PhD, onco-psychologist, The University of Kansas Cancer Center

  • She seeks input from the care team to help design mental care plans for patients.
  • In this case, she was able to see Mary and Akasya in hospital and in outpatient settings, which can be stressful for them in very different ways.
  • When patients are dealing with complex cancers, it is critical to prepare for a marathon of mental and physical challenges.
  • It has been great working with these two because of their love for each other.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, director of infection prevention & control, The University of Kansas Health System

  • Active COVID patients in the Health System this week are at 19, which is up from 16 last week.
  • West Nile Virus is still a concern. Make sure you use bug spray with DEET to help avoid bites.
  • For vaccines, you can get vaccines – COVID, influenza, RSV -- at the same time.

Wednesday, September 20 at 8 a.m. CT is the next Open Mics with Dr. Stites. Chief medical officers from around the region discuss plans for COVID, flu, and RSV in the upcoming months.

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