From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders

February 25, 2021

A sunny disposition, strong faith and a ground-breaking treatment at OHC are helping Marea West beat her lymphoma.

In 2015, Marea felt a lump in her neck that she thought was a tumor which was cancerous and she had it removed. A year later she was also losing sight in her left eye. After receiving radiation therapy for the tumor, a second round of radiation on her eyes and visiting an ophthalmologist, everything seemed fine. But when Marea returned from a visit to her homeland, England, in 2018 she wasn’t feeling well. She made an appointment with her primary care doctor who took blood tests and shortly after instructed her to go to a hospital immediately for a blood transfusion.

The next day at 5:30am, OHC’s David M. Waterhouse, MD, a medical oncologist and hematologist, was in Marea’s hospital room with the news that she had lymphoma. He explained that she needed to be transferred to The Jewish Hospital so OHC’s blood cancer experts could perform a life-saving blood and marrow transplant.

“When they diagnosed the lymphoma, Dr. Waterhouse referred me to his colleague at OHC, Dr. Jim Essell, because he’s one of their experts in blood cancers. Dr. Essell recommended that I should have a stem cell transplant,” Marea explained.

“The procedure went well, and I was feeling good,” said Marea, who lives in Burlington, KY with her husband. “But then, about six months later, I started feeling bad again. I just knew it was the cancer; that it had come back.”

This time, Marea was treated with immunotherapy. But like her other two treatments, her cancer responded to the treatment for about six months and then relapsed. Her remaining option was chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, also known as CAR-T.

CAR-T is one of the most exciting and promising cancer treatment breakthroughs in recent years. It’s a type of immunotherapy that re-trains the body’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. CAR-T has shown dramatic results in patients who, with few treatment options and little hope, are now experiencing life in remission. “We always want to offer our patients hope when other treatments have failed to keep their cancer in remission,” said James H. Essell, MD, OHC medical oncologist, hematologist and blood and marrow transplant specialist. “We’re optimistic about CAR-T as we are seeing positive results with many of our patients. OHC will continue their cancer research with CAR-T to explore many more options for patients with specific conditions and limitations.” OHC is the only independent adult cancer group in the region to offer CAR-T for adults.

Marea has been doing well since her CAR-T treatment.

“I’ve always been positive. When my cancer returned, I wasn’t upset. I was shocked, but not upset. I think you just have to be positive, have a good sense of humor, and have faith. And my husband has been fantastic. He cooks, cleans, and irons – and he hates ironing. He has really taken care of me.”

“And all the doctors at OHC are so wonderful. I don’t know how you can be around them and not be positive!” Marea said. “Dr. Essell really looks after me. He made sure I know I’m not to be doing any gardening right now and to be sure to get a COVID vaccine. And Kristin (Brady, MPAS, PA-C, Advanced Practice Provider), too. I made a wreath for her and she couldn’t believe I did that for her.”

“The nurses are wonderful too. They always ask how I’ve been and what I’ve been up to since my last visit. I made some pink ornaments for their tree and they seemed to enjoy them. I think there must be days when the doctors and nurses are tired or a little down, but you’d never know because they always come in the room with a bright smile.”

Marea says the other patients also keep her positive. One day, she was seated between two women, one was 92 and the other was 94 years old, and they had Marea laughing. One told the nurse she was feeling nauseated and when asked if she was taking her medicine for nausea, she said no. Marea said they got to laughing because she has to take it for it to work.

“The other lady plans to live to 100. That’s me. I have a lot of things I want to do and places to visit, so I don’t plan on leaving any time soon!” Marea said.

The cancer experts at OHC are giving patients extended remission and a new sense of hope with ground-breaking treatments like CAR-T. Learn more about CAR-T and other treatments and services, or request a second opinion, at

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