Today's 6 anchor Tamara Jolee battles cancer, same blood disorder as Robin Roberts
Tamara Jolee battled cancer, same blood disorder as Robin Roberts Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
Tamara Jolee was hosting a local American Idol audition back in Texas a couple of years ago when her vision suddenly blurred. The Texas sun blazed down and she tried to steady her body, but soon she hit the pavement, was unconscious and quickly rushed to the hospital.
Doctors knew something was wrong with Tamara when they physically examined her and noticed several lymph nodes protruding from her body. It was then that she revealed to doctors other symptoms she had been experiencing: fatigue, sweat that was staining her clothes red and an intense, burning itch on her lower legs that caused bruises.
Doctors ordered her to get a CT scan and days later an oncologist delivered her family devastating news: Tamara had Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). They said the blood cancer had likely been growing for years without her knowledge. By the time the cancer was discovered, it had spread to 90 percent of Tamara’s body, invaded her bone marrow and reached both sides of her diaphragm.
Doctors gave her five years to live.
Tamara immediately started chemotherapy and through 16 rounds did relatively well until she woke up one morning with holes in her tongue. Blisters quickly formed all through her mouth and invaded her throat, the pain so excruciating that it took away her voice and forced her into quarantine. It was then that she was diagnosed with a blood and bone marrow disorder similar to Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America: myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). The syndrome is a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells.
It’s believed that the chemotherapy used to save Tamara’s life – is the same thing that caused the blood disorder.
After experiencing 20 rounds of chemotherapy, doctors delivered shocking news to Tamara in July of 2011: she reached remission for the first time. Her version of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (there are many different kinds) is considered incurable and doctors warn that they expect it to return between 1-3 years.
However, Tamara says “faith, not medicine” is where she puts her trust. You can read more about her incredible story in a book called ‘I Am Second’ available nationwide at Barnes & Noble Bookstores. You can also watch a video testimony of her story here: http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/tamara-jolee/
Tamara Jolee’s statement regarding Robin Roberts:
“When I was an intern with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, I had the chance to interview Robin Roberts. I was incredibly impressed with her love for life, people and ability to make everyone feel special. When I heard about Robin’s latest battle with MDS, I was originally heartbroken. I was also shocked because it was the first time that I heard about someone else with the rare blood disorder. When I was at the lowest point in my life, quarantined from people because of doctor’s fear that I would catch an infection or germs – two things kept going through my mind. I wanted to feel the wind and sunshine again. I also promised myself in that hospital bed back in Dallas that one day – I’d work again. I knew, without a doubt, that I’d be strong enough one day to get back on air. I love my television career because of the special people I meet every single day! I enjoy sharing and telling other’s stories; it’s my hope that I’m healthy enough to do it for a long time. I am extremely happy that Robin has a great, close family to root and cheer her on like I do! My family and friends are the reason I never give up and continue to fight. Although my cancer and blood disorder battle is long from over, I’m forever grateful of the life I’ve lived, no matter how long or short. I send my prayers and well wishes to Robin and everyone else out there fighting a health scare. I love you all and we’re all in this together!”
What are Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)?
Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells.It can affect any of the myeloid stem cell lines, including red blood cells, platelets, and myeloid white blood cells.
Risk factors for myelodysplastic syndromes include the following:
• Being male or white.
• Being older than 60 years.
• Past treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
• Being exposed to certain chemicals, including tobacco smoke, pesticides, and solvents such as benzene.
• Being exposed to heavy metals, such as mercury or lead.
There are several types of myelodysplastic syndromes.
Myelodysplastic syndromes are characterized by having too few of one or more types of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow or blood. Myelodysplastic syndromes include the following diseases:
Refractory anemia: There are too few red blood cells in the blood and the patient has anemia. The number of white blood cells and platelets is normal.
Refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts: There are too few red blood cells in the blood and the patient has anemia. The red blood cells have too much iron. The number of white blood cells and platelets is normal.
Refractory anemia with excess blasts: There are too few red blood cells in the blood and the patient has anemia. Five percent to 19% of the cells in the bone marrow are blasts and there are a normal number of blasts found in the blood. There also may be changes to the white blood cells and platelets. Refractory anemia with excess blasts may progress to acute myeloid leukemia.
Refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation: There are too few red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the blood, and the patient has anemia. Twenty percent to 30% of the cells in the bone marrow are blasts and more than 5% of the cells in the blood are blasts. Refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation is sometimes called acute myeloid leukemia.
Refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia: There are too few of at least two types of blood cells. Less than 5% of the cells in the bone marrow are blasts and less than 1% of the cells in the blood are blasts. If red blood cells are affected, they may have extra iron. Refractory cytopenia may progress to acute leukemia.
Myelodysplastic syndrome associated with an isolated del(5q) chromosome abnormality: There are too few red blood cells in the blood and the patient has anemia. Less than 5% of the cells in the bone marrow and blood are blasts. There is a specific change in the chromosome.
Unclassifiable myelodysplastic syndrome: There are too few of one type of blood cell in the blood. The number of blasts in the bone marrow and blood is normal, and the disease is not one of the other myelodysplastic syndromes.
What are the symptoms of MDS?
Myelodysplastic syndromes often do not cause early symptoms and are sometimes found during a routine blood test.
Other symptoms can include:
• Shortness of breath.
• Weakness or feeling tired.
• Having skin that is paler than usual
• Easy bruising or bleeding.
• Petechiae (flat, pinpoint spots under the skin caused by bleeding).
• Fever or frequent infections.
There are different types of treatment for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes.
Treatment options for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes range from supportive care that helps relieve symptoms to aggressive treatment that may slow or prevent progression of the disease.
Problems caused by low blood cell counts, such as fatigue and infections, may be treated with transfusions of blood products or the use of the growth factor erythropoetin. Sometimes granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is given with erythropoietin to help the treatment work better.
Chemotherapy may be used to delay progression of the disease. Other drug therapy may be used to lessen the need for transfusions. Certain patients may benefit from aggressive treatment with chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant using stem cells from a donor.
Specific protocols for the treatment of MDS can be found at: NCI
What is a stem cell transplant?
A stem cell transplant is a method of giving chemotherapy and replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by the treatment.
Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of a donor and are frozen for storage.
After the chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These re-infused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body's blood cells.