Jacquelyn Weatherly is back to her wonderful life after overcoming cancer.
Jacquelyn Weatherly lost both parents to cancer, so when she was diagnosed with the disease at age 59, she was not surprised. It was the type of cancer -- a rare blood cancer called multiple myeloma -- that came as a shock. Thankfully, prompt, expert care at Duke -- including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant -- has the Raleigh resident back on her feet and thankful for the personalized treatment she received. “I was very impressed, and it takes a lot to impress me,” she said.
Abnormal Blood Work Leads to Cancer Diagnosis
In November 2021, Weatherly received a surprise phone call from her primary care provider. He believed that there may be a mistake in her lab results from routine bloodwork but wanted to find out for sure. Although Weatherly's only symptom was fatigue, she quickly headed to Duke Raleigh Hospital. “The next thing I knew, I was getting a blood transfusion, and five or six doctors were standing around me,” she recalled.
The news was not good. Testing confirmed that Weatherly had multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that damages the bones and kidneys and affects the body’s ability to make healthy blood cells. She had her first chemotherapy treatment a few days later and returned home the next day.
An Ideal Candidate for Stem Cell Transplant
During her hospital stay, she met with Sendhilnathan Ramalingam, MD, a hematologic oncologist and cellular therapy specialist at Duke Cancer Center Raleigh, to learn more about her condition and treatment options. “He was so personable, so caring. It was something special, and I knew I felt comfortable with whatever he recommended.” When Dr. Ramalingam later told her that she was an ideal candidate for a stem cell transplant, she was all ears. He explained that the treatment -- also called a bone marrow transplant -- would require chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells in Weatherly’s body. Then she would receive an infusion of healthy cells to replace those destroyed by chemotherapy.
Back to Her Wonderful Life
After many rounds of chemotherapy and a successful stem cell transplant in May of 2022, Weatherly, now age 61, is back to her old life, which she describes as wonderful. “Out of all of our patients, she is one of the most resilient,” said Dr. Ramalingam. “She is open to the treatments that we offer, and I think that's benefited her. Her last bone marrow biopsy showed a great response. She is in remission.”
Through her church, she has become an advisor for people with multiple myeloma and other cancers. When they ask her where to go for treatment, she recommends Duke Cancer Center Raleigh. “Cancer is a serious illness, so you definitely want to go to the best center and to be treated by the best doctors. In my opinion, Duke is the best. Duke is home for me.”