Being diagnosed with cancer can be a life-altering experience – one that leaves you feeling helpless, powerless and uncertain of what the future holds.
Just ask Nelson Stone (Delta Zeta, Dayton Alumni). He had an incredibly full and very active life, until the cancer diagnosis stopped him in his tracks…temporarily.
“When I was first diagnosed with cancer back in 2014, the first thing I thought of was death,” said Stone.
Stone has multiple myeloma – a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. While there is currently no cure for it, the cancer can be managed successfully in many patients for years.
A love for life never lost
“Nelson was originally referred to me for a monoclonal gammopathy, which is a precursor condition for multiple myeloma,” said Manisha Nanda, DO, an oncologist with Kettering Health Network. “He did quite well for a long period of time, and then unfortunately, his disease progressed rather quickly.”
Stone became very ill, almost to the point of needing dialysis. He went from weighing a robust 220 pounds to 172 pounds in a matter of three weeks. For a man with a genuine zest for life, his illness was affecting his ability to get out and interact with family and friends – something he really enjoyed. But a quitter, he was not.
“Nelson is a fighter. He’s a person who finds joy and love in everything he does, and it was crucial that his treatment kept his passion for life alive,” explained Dr. Nanda.
Stone started on his course of treatment quickly, and Dr. Nanda and her team were able to turn his situation around to the point that he did not require any sort of dialysis intervention. Slowly but surely, he was getting back to living his life.
No one was more excited for him than Dr. Nanda and her team.
Said Dr. Nanda, “For me personally, my patients are like family. When he [Stone] is down, we’re all down. When we know he’s hurting, we want to help him. And when he’s up, we’re all up.”
Well, he was up and had a huge goal in mind: to run in the Penn Relay Races – the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States.
“Up until I got cancer, I hadn’t missed a relay in 38 years,” said Stone. “I’ve missed the last two. So I said to myself, ‘I’m going to see if I can enter into the 75-and-over race’. My objective right now is to finish as strong as I can.”
Treating the whole patient: mind, body and spirit
When a patient walks through her office door, Dr. Nanda recognizes that they are more than just the cancer that brought them to her. She wants to know them…all of them, more holistically – from what other medical problems they may have, to what family issues they may be dealing with, to how much social support exists in their lives.
“Cancer impacts everything within a person’s life,” said Dr. Nanda. “It’s a journey that includes so much more than just the patient’s treatment.”
It’s a philosophy of care that the lies at the core of the new Kettering Cancer Center, located on the campus of Kettering Medical Center. Scheduled to open in December of this year, the Kettering Cancer Center will serve as a single touch-point, providing a wide range of services to help both patients and families navigate the often scary and overwhelming journey through cancer treatment, without having to travel outside of the Dayton area.
“I think the hope is that individuals in Dayton will see that we have the capability of providing cutting-edge cancer care that has a personalized touch,” said Dr. Nanda.
As for Nelson Stone, his battle with cancer wages on, but he knows that he has a capable and compassionate team at his back.
“My battle with cancer and multiple myeloma isn’t over yet,” said Stone. “But I keep fighting because of the team that fights for me.”
And he kept on running too. With the help of Dr. Nanda and her team, Stone achieved his goal and ran in the Penn State Relay races this past April.