A high school track star and Marine recruit, Adrian Trotter lived and breathed fitness at 18. So when he couldn’t catch his breath and felt his energy waning during a training run in summer 2011, he knew something was off. But he never dreamed he was in for the race of his life – one to defeat cancer.
Scans revealed tumors in his chest, and further tests determined Adrian had a very aggressive form of cancer: peripheral T-cell lymphoma. Under the watchful care of Stephen Smith, MD, pediatric hematologist/oncologist, he immediately began chemotherapy.
Long journey begins
Adrian endured not only pain, but losing his hair and his hard-earned muscle tone in the bargain. But he persevered, flexing his strong resolve and sharp sense of humor. His mother headed his support system, setting up shop to work in Adrian’s hospital room.
"There are so many ups and downs with cancer," Adrian says. "Some days, I would feel really happy, and then I would have a day with a lot of pain. It’s not something you can be ready for."
And the biggest challenges were still ahead. In his last weeks of chemo, Adrian developed excruciating headaches. Scans revealed tumors in his spinal cord, brain and leg muscles.
Now, it’s time to focus on getting back to being me, to my dreams. – Adrian Trotter
Dr. Smith was prepared with plan B. Early on, he had met with Joseph McGuirk, DO, medical director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s blood and marrow transplant and cellular therapeutics program. The program is the largest in the region, with more than 3,700 successful procedures since 1977.
Dr. Smith had wanted to make sure they would be ready for a blood or marrow transplant should Adrian need it. And now, he did.
The BMT team knew finding a donor match for Adrian wouldn’t be easy. Because of a great need for donors of ethnic backgrounds in the international donor registry the chance of a donor match for African Americans is 35%, compared to 75% caucasians.
Beating the odds
Adrian beat the odds when a perfect match was found in an unrelated donor. His procedure – a stem cell transplant – was a success. By August 2012, he was in complete remission.
The pain and uncertainties of cancer treatment are behind him, but they have left their mark. Like all BMT survivors, Adrian faces the often daunting task of rebuilding his body, mind and spirit. He still hopes one day to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a police officer.
"Now, it’s time to focus on getting back to being me, to my dreams," he says.