HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Given a 50/50 chance of survival, Joseph Overton knew he was not got to stop fighting cancer. Seven months after receiving a stem cell transplant at Huntsville Hospital, the 78-year-old Guntersville man is now cancer free and counting his blessings.
Overton was diagnosed with B cell lymphoma, a very aggressive form of cancer that spreads quickly.
But the diagnosis, however grim was not going to stop Overton from fighting and he had a special weapon in his corner, Dr. Jeremy Hon at Huntsville Hospital and his well-trained stem cell transplant team.
“You come to me when you want to fight cancer, you don’t come to me if you are looking for a referral to Hospice,” said Dr. Hon. “You come to me to fight.”
A stem cell transplant is not for every patient, but Overton was a perfect candidate due to his healthy lifestyle and his type of cancer. According to information from the Mayo Clinic, a stem cell transplant can be performed if high-dose chemotherapy is given in the treatment of blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, or amyloidosis.
A stem cell transplant helps your body make enough healthy white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets, and reduce your risk of life-threatening infections, anemia and bleeding following high-dose chemotherapy.
At Huntsville Hospital, the procedure used to replenish your body’s supply of healthy blood-forming cells is known as a autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplant–meaning the stem cells transplanted use cells from your own body.
Huntsville Hospital is the only hospital in a 100-mile radius with the equipment and staff needed for a stem cell transplant. The hospital purchased new machinery for the department this past year.
Overton is back to doing what he loves thanks to the stem cell transplant. During the last year he took a trip to Disney, a cruise and has started building houses again.
“I tell people that Dr. Hon saved my life and for that I am truly grateful,” Overton told WHNT News 19.