Dreams do come true after advanced care for lymphoma

Patient Elaine Johnson (center) with Grace Suh and Michael Bishop

During her treatment for lymphoma, Elaine Johnson often recalled advice from a much-loved Disney character. “Just keep swimming,” she’d tell herself. She dreamed of beating cancer and spending more time in the Magic Kingdom.

Johnson, 57, is a huge Disney fan. And her care team at UChicago Medicine’s Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital knows all about it.

“When I came for appointments, the nurses and doctors talked to me about my love for all things Disney,” said Johnson, who lives in New Lenox, not far from the hospital where she got much of her cancer care.” It got my mind off of what was going on.”

Elaine was diagnosed with large B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, in May 2014. She and her husband, Jerry, were aware that UChicago Medicine specialists provide comprehensive cancer services at Silver Cross Hospital.

“Jerry and I felt the cancer center staff in New Lenox would be the same caliber as the oncologists at UChicago Medicine in Hyde Park.”

For the next two years, Johnson received all her treatment at Silver Cross, undergoing several courses of chemotherapy. When the aggressive cancer failed to go into remission, she was referred to oncologist Michael Bishop, MD, an expert in cellular therapies for blood cancers who sees patients at both locations.

We combine the science and research of a world class-cancer center with the feel of a community hospital.

Bishop managed Johnson’s care as she underwent two advanced treatments —a stem cell transplant and then CAR T-cell therapy, a new immunotherapy for blood cancers, which at the time was available only at select centers across the country through a clinical trial. Those treatments took place on UChicago Medicine’s Hyde Park campus, but whenever possible, checkups, blood work and scans were performed at Silver Cross.

“We helped Elaine and her family navigate her care at the two facilities,” said medical oncologist Grace Suh, MD. “Our goal was to give her the best care possible so she could get her life back.” Added Bishop, “And get her back to Disney World.”

Now, two years after her last cancer treatment, Johnson is thrilled to be taking extended vacations to the theme parks, where her daughter Rachel is a cast member. But Johnson will continue to see Suh, Bishop and the other cast members on her Silver Cross cancer team for follow-up care.

“The staff at Silver Cross are like family now,” Johnson said. “We’ll always come back here.”

University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Ill.

UChicago Medicine Cancer Care at Silver Cross Hospital

The UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital brings the expertise of UChicago Medicine and Comer Children's cancer specialists to a convenient community setting in Will County. On-site services include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, pre- and post-transplant care for stem cell transplants, screenings, supportive care and more.

Learn more about UChicago Medicine adult and pediatric cancer care at Silver Cross Hospital
car t-cell therapy

CAR T-Cell Therapy

CAR T-cell therapy supercharges a patient's white blood cells to seek out and destroy cancer cells. Research at UChicago Medicine played a key role in the development of this exciting new immunotherapy.

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