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Thu, Nov. 14

Light the Night Walk helps ease life for cancer victims<BR>

Joan Walker's continued leukemia treatment was so risky, her doctors at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale presented her case to 200 physicians at a Florida seminar. Doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas accepted the case and saved her life.

Diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in March 2002, Walker, now 64, underwent six months of treatment at Mayo. Her road to healing was fraught with complications, including a fungal blood infection that nearly took her life. That infection kept her in isolation for the first five weeks of treatment. With a platelet count so low her body couldn't fight off infections, Walker hemorrhaged internally and on the skin surface, causing such dark bruising on her head and neck, she appeared to be the victim of a severe beating.

Although she received platelets from donors throughout the US considered perfect matches, Walker's body rejected the donations. She also developed serious heart problems and her blood pressure plummeted.

"I faced death's door. They almost lost me," Walker said.

Then her body accepted platelets from her daughters and her condition stabilized somewhat.

Still, Mayo's doctors faced a Catch-22: further treatment could kill her in her weakened state, but the cancer could not be arrested without some kind of treatment.

"I chose to leave it in God's hands and prayed for his guidance," said Walker, a devout Christian.

Enter M.D. Anderson physicians with new cancer treatment drugs. Six months in Houston for Joan and Wes, her husband of 46 years, followed. In March, she returned home, confined to a wheelchair. Three months later, she was walking four miles each day.

Ambling two miles for the Light the Night walk at StoneRidge Friday night should be a cakewalk for her.

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