CHICAGO — Yesterday, Wednesday, Jan. 30, in-front of physicians, nurses and family members, 33-year-old Adrian McDaniel, Syracuse, a stem cell transplant recipient and now two-year Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor and patient of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Chicago, met her registered National Marrow Donor Program donor and former U.S. Marine Corps Reserve member, 24-year-old Matthew Erbe face-to-face for the first time.
After being diagnosed in 2012, McDaniel arrived at CTCA Chicago in 2017 searching for additional options to treat her aggressive cancer. Confident in her team at CTCA Chicago, McDaniel began her personalized treatment plan, including steps to receive a much-needed allogeneic stem cell transplant, a procedure where stem cells are collected from a donor and transplanted into the patient. With no family members who were a match, McDaniel was put into the NMDP registry where her perfect match was found in Erbe, a 21 year old at the time.
“Based on the progression of her disease, when Adrian arrived at CTCA, she was in trouble. She was one of the 10 to 15 percent of Hodgkin lymphoma patients who have a refractory disease that either does not respond to initial therapy or progresses after an initial partial response,” said Syed Abutalib, MD, assistant director, Stem Cell Transplant and Cell Therapy Program, CTCA Chicago. “The next big step was an allogeneic transplant, but Adrian had no HLA matched sibling donors. We searched the unrelated donor registry and were lucky to find a perfect match in Matthew.”
Yesterday’s celebration comes just two weeks after the two-year anniversary of the stem cell transplant that has left McDaniel with no evidence of disease in her body and culminated in an emotional, face-to-face meeting with the young man who saved her life. In attendance were McDaniel’s husband, Cody McDaniel, their three children, Cameron, Lauren and Everett, her mother, Jamie Clark, and best friend, Brandi Dailey, Erbe’s mother and father, Shawn and Steve Erbe, and Erbe’s girlfriend, Claire Miller, as well as their care teams and members of the community. During the event, McDaniel and Erbe exchange hugs and details about their individual journeys and McDaniel presented Erbe with a handmade cross-stitched canvas with signatures from family and friends.
“The last several years have been an up and down journey for me,” said McDaniel. “From the moment I walked into CTCA, I knew I was in the right place with the right people. I’m so happy I was able to meet Matt today and share my deepest gratitude for him giving me a second chance to be a mom to my kids.”
Erbe shared similar sentiments toward his meeting with McDaniel, “When I was called by the NMDP and told I was a match, I immediately said yes. Being Adrian’s donor has created a bond between us that I think is hard for others to comprehend. I’m proud to have played a role in Adrian’s story and I know we will remain friends long after this.”
People interested in learning more about becoming a stem cell donor can visit Be The Match.
For more information about CTCA Chicago and the Stem Cell Transplant and Cell Therapy Program, please visit cancercenter.com.