Bradley Schott didn’t have to look far for the cancer care he needed when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2020. Gautami S. Rao, MD, of Southern NH Health and the SolutionHealth Cancer Institute, had treated his mother’s leukemia. Schott trusted that the care he received from dr. Rao in Nashua, along with the expertise and advanced therapies at Massachusetts General Hospital, would help him through his cancer journey.
Schott’s primary care provider (PCP) made the stunning diagnosis of multiple myeloma last August after he experienced some unexplained broken ribs.
“I was doing yard work one day, and when I bent over, I got this terrible cramping in my side. An x-ray showed a broken rib. Then it happened again on the other side, so my PCP ordered some blood tests,” explains Schott. “Before this, I wasn’t even taking aspirin; I was healthy.”
Multiple myeloma is cancer that accumulates in the bone marrow, causing frequent infections, bone problems, reduced kidney function, and other serious complications. To keep his cancer from spreading further, Schott was soon on immunotherapy and undergoing weekly chemotherapy infusions at the Solinsky Center for Cancer Care in Nashua. The Solinsky Center is part of the SolutionHealth Cancer Institute, a collaboration with Southern NH Health and The Elliot, offering residents of southern New Hampshire advanced surgical, medical, and radiation oncology; clinical trials; and supportive services, as well as access to experts from the Mass General Cancer Center. “I ended up having eight rounds of chemotherapy, every Monday. I was Zooming from my infusion room, teaching my sixth-grade science classes. I kept plugging away; never took a sick day. I was fatigued but otherwise OK,” says Schott, who is a local teacher.
“Bradley responded very well to treatment, but his emotional fortitude was most impressive,” says Dr. Rao, a medical oncologist. “He continued to juggle treatments, appointments, pain from the myeloma, side effects of treatment, and was still able to continue teaching his students without missing a step.”
In June, Schott received a stem cell transplant (also known as a bone marrow transplant) at Mass General. Mass General collected Schott’s own stem cells during the winter. After high-dose chemotherapy to destroy the diseased bone marrow, his stem cells were infused back into his body. The transplant meant Schott had to spend more than two weeks at Mass General because the procedure and recovery must take place in a sterile environment. “The nurses at Mass General are amazing; so kind, gentle, and knowledgeable! One even gave me a haircut when my hair was falling out in clumps,” says Schott. “A doctor checked on me every morning as I recovered. I had great conversations with the chaplain also.”
“The collaboration with subspecialists at Mass General, their availability and accessibility, have markedly improved the care we can offer patients. It has improved our ability to manage side effects and change treatment options and obtain second opinions quickly; it also gives us a chance to participate in their tumor boards and conferences,” says Dr. Rao.
Today, Schott says he’s feeling confident about his future and recovery. I still have to be careful because it takes a long time for the bones to heal, but they are doing everything possible to reduce the likelihood that I’ll relapse. I know I’m getting the best care.”
Learn more about the SolutionHealth Cancer Institute at solutionhealthcancerinstitute.org.
This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Your Wellness Solution.