Tina McMannis travels 40 minutes round-trip twice each month from her hometown of Groveport, Ohio, to the OSUCCC – James to attend bone marrow transplant support group meetings. “One reason I go is that it helps me remember where I’ve been,” she said.
Tina was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) seven years ago, at the age of 47, and her six months of treatment at the OSUCCC – James included a bone marrow transplant and participation in clinical trials. “I always tell people in the group that if I had known that I would be sitting here seven years later talking to you, I would have handled the process with a lot less anxiety,” Tina said.
ALL is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that comes on suddenly and progresses quickly. Tina also had a genetic factor called the Philadelphia chromosome, which can make the disease more complex to treat.
In early April 2007, Tina underwent a bone marrow biopsy at a local hospital, confirming her diagnosis of ALL. Her cancer required specialized treatment and potentially a bone marrow transplant. There was only one place in the state to which her doctor would refer her: the OSUCCC – James. Within a day, Tina was scheduled for an appointment.
Tina stayed at the OSUCCC – James that night, and another 25 days. An additional biopsy and testing confirmed her diagnosis and revealed more about her specific ALL. Tina began chemotherapy and continued oral chemotherapy at home. Over the summer, she would go to the OSUCCC – James for short stays and treatment. The goal was to place her ALL into temporary remission before transplant.
Seven years later, Tina feels fortunate for many reasons. Her family provided excellent support, especially her husband and son, who took care of her at home. Another reason is the initial accurate diagnosis. She has learned in support groups that many people travel to the OSUCCC – James after being misdiagnosed elsewhere, losing valuable time.
“I don’t know how I was so blessed to have this hospital in my backyard when I needed it,” Tina said. A few years after her care, Tina was able to tour the OSUCCC – James research tower as part of a fund-raising project for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk. “This research facility is phenomenal,” she said.
Tina is happy to have participated in clinical trials, knowing that treatment and bone marrow transplants have improved since 2007, partly because of patients like her who came before. She recognizes that patients with ALL before 2007 did the same to advance her care. “I do feel that God has really blessed me, and this is giving back in a small way and that’s how I live my life,” she said.
In addition to Light the Night and support groups, Tina is a Partner in Hope with St. Jude’s to support children with ALL. She and her husband volunteer each year at Pelotonia, a grassroots bike ride that raises money for the OSUCCC – James. She also visits the nurses on the floor where she received such great care.
“I don’t feel that I could have been treated in a better place,” Tina said. “The nurses and doctors are phenomenal. I can’t say enough about the care I received.”