A South Surrey man fighting an aggressive form of leukemia in Texas has been given the go-ahead by doctors to undergo a stem-cell transplant, following news that his cancer is in remission.
Brandon Durieux has been receiving treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston since early February, following a diagnosis last summer of cancer that Vancouver doctors said was untreatable.
Despite complications over the past three months – including a serious bacterial infection and a scare that the cancer had spread to his central nervous system – Durieux and his wife, Michelle, received the news from doctors two weeks ago that the 25-year-old is in remission.
“I don’t think it has completely sunk in yet,” Michelle told Peace Arch News Wednesday. “We were waiting for that news for so long. It was amazing to hear, but almost surreal at the same time.”
Durieux will remain on the treatment leading up to his stem-cell transplant while doctors screen his donor for any infectious diseases. Once the procedure date has been scheduled, Durieux will undergo a slew of tests, as well as a week of aggressive chemotherapy to “completely wipe out” his bone marrow, in order to help his body accept the stem cells.
Following the transplant – which could take place in as soon as three weeks – he will remain in hospital for 30 days and under close doctor supervision for months to monitor for signs of complications.
Michelle acknowledged the risks associated with a stem-cell transplant – including rejection or disease that could lead to organ failure – but said the aggressive cancer left doctors with no other option.
“There’s a huge chance he could relapse without a transplant, so we all know that’s what needs to happen,” Michelle said, noting the cancer centre performs more than 1,000 such procedures each year.
The couple has not received updated cost estimates for the treatment. Since February, when Michelle said the bill could reach more than US$1 million, friends and family have been rallying to help ease the financial burden with a gofundme page (www.gofundme.com/vzm5ejpt+)
And while they considered returning to Canada for the transplant, the risk of travelling now is too great.
Though the cancer treatment has left Durieux battling severe side effects like nausea and fatigue, Michelle said his spirits are still high, especially in light of their recent good news.
“The excitement of the remission gave him quite a boost,” she said “He’s just powering through it like he always does.”