For months Tracy Seguljic hadn’t been feeling well. She had recently lost her husband to glioblastoma—an aggressive form of brain cancer—and believed she was just suffering from exhaustion, brought on by her grief and the months spent caring for her husband and two teenage sons.
After experiencing shortness of breath, Seguljic, a Berlin resident, went to the emergency department at MidState Medical Center where a bone marrow biopsy confirmed that she had acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
“I was told to prepare for a month in the hospital. But at no point did I ever think I was going to die,” Seguljic said.
From the emergency department, oncologist Dr. Susan Alsamarai quickly began to develop a strategy for Seguljic’s care which included an aggressive form of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant in partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
“We needed to get things started quickly. We worked with pathology to get the results so we would know what the right course of treatment should be. We needed to know what form of leukemia she had and what mutations she might have,” said Dr. Alsamarai.
Seguljic had a mutation known as FLT3 which makes the cancer even more aggressive. Luckily for Seguljic her treatment worked, and within two months her cancer went into remission. The next step was for Seguljic to have a bone marrow transplant. Thanks to the Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute’s membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, Seguljic’s transplant was seamlessly coordinated by her providers at MidState and the world renowned specialists at MSK.
“It was very smooth getting her [to MSK in New York City] and expediting the transplant. This was 2015 and we had just begun our relationship with MSK. It was a good prototype of how we should carry out this relationship,” said Alsamarai.
Seguljic’s transplant, made possible through a marrow donation from her sister, was a success. Four years into the partnership with MSK, the Cancer Institute now employs a bone marrow coordinator who facilitates transplants like Seguljic’ s.
Seguljic credits the quick thinking by the team at MidState and the expertise of MSK in helping her beat leukemia. But, it’s her faith that has guided her emotionally through some pretty dark days, she said.
“This is just a bump in the road. You lean on God and don’t sweat the little things,” she said.