Sutter Cancer Centers
Ahmeer - Bone and Marrow Transplant
Ahmeer Rivac has a competitive will. He’s a big fan of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and mixed martial arts. His spirited attitude has been known to be on display during his workouts at Capital City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The 33-year-old has also harnessed that energy in his battle against Stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Ahmeer’s ethnic background is Filipino, which like many minorities has a disproportionately low representation on the Be The Match Registry®. This makes finding a match difficult for unrelated allogeneic transplants (i.e., using cells from someone other than the patient), which is what Ahmeer needs to help recover. Fortunately, after Sutter Cancer Center’s staff scoured the registry for a match, they found one. In fact, Ahmeer may actually be in the hospital for his transplant while the drive is happening. But that won’t stop him from educating others about the importance and impact of being a donor.
“Although those who donate may not directly help me it will definitely help someone like me,” he said.
Ahmeer’s initial diagnosis came in August 2009 after he went to see his primary care physician, Scott Cannon, M.D., about a lump on his neck and a persistent cough. His physician ordered a CT scan of his chest and some blood work, and upon receiving the results, called Ahmeer at work with the news: he had cancer. Ahmeer was referred to Michael Carroll, M.D., blood and marrow transplant specialist for Sutter Medical Group and Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. Dr. Carroll began Ahmeer on chemotherapy to prepare him for his first transplant, known as an autologous transplant, where a patient donates his/her own bone marrow or stem cells prior to treatment for reinfusion later after high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation.
After treatment, Ahmeer was in remission until December of 2010. It was then while working out that the eerily familiar cough returned. He sat out a few rounds – his head telling him that it was probably just a cold, but his heart urging him to visit Dr. Carroll again. Dr. Carroll confirmed what Ahmeer had feared: his cancer had returned. This time, Dr. Carroll suggested an allogeneic transplant. When his two brothers were ruled out as donors, they turned to the Be The Match Registry®.
“Dr. Carroll and his team, which includes the staff at the infusion center, Patti, my BMT nurse and Jamie, my social worker, have been awesome and there with me every step of the way,” he said. “When I found out that I had to go through this again for a second time I was happy to know that they would be all there again to help me through it.”
Ahmeer, who lives in Elk Grove, has all the support of his loving wife of three years, Leilani, his beautiful two-year-old daughter, Maddon, as well as numerous other close family members and friends – including his buddies at the gym.
“They played a huge role mentally and physically in my recovery when I was in remission and have shown tremendous support upon hearing about my news that I had cancer for a second time,” he said. “They even created a Cancer Fighter wristband for me in support of my fight, which they all wear until I return to the mats.”
Learn more about the Bone and Marrow transplant unit at Sutter Cancer Center, Sacramento.
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