For the third time since being diagnosed with cancer two years ago, Mandi Schwartz, the sister of 2010 first-round draft choice Jaden Schwartz, is back in remission.
According to yalebulldogs.com, the next stage for Schwartz, who received the good news Tuesday following her biopsy results, is to undergo a stem cell transplant designed to finally help end her battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
The breakthrough procedure, developed by one of her doctors at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, will be scheduled as soon as possible.
"We are relieved to hear that Mandi is back in remission," Mandi's father, Rick Schwartz, told Sam Rubin of Yale Sports Publicity. "The support we have received during this difficult time has been inspiring. We thank everyone who has kept Mandi in their thoughts and prayers, and encourage everyone to continue raising awareness of the need for bone marrow donors and umbilical cord blood donors to save the lives of all patients who need transplants like the one Mandi will receive."
Mandi Schwartz (David Silverman, DSPics.com)
The good news comes just 21 days after Mandi's cancer had returned -- forcing doctors to cancel an originally planned stem cell transplant that had been scheduled Aug. 27. After being discharged from the hospital on Aug. 19 following another round of chemotherapy, Mandi returned to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's University of Washington Medical Center on Aug. 25 with a high fever. She's currently being treated there, which is where the transplant will take place.
The transplant will use stem cells from two units of umbilical cord blood, including one that has had its number of stem cells increased using a procedure pioneered by Dr. Colleen Delaney of the Hutchinson Research Center. With the increased amount of stem cells involved in the transplant, engraftment -- the generation of infection-fighting white blood cells of Mandi's new immune system following transplantation -- is likely to happen more quickly, limiting the risk of infections.
Schwartz was first diagnosed with the blood cancer that has been destroying her bone marrow in December 2008, just days after assisting the Yale women's hockey team to a 4-1 win over Brown.
The chemotherapy that 22-year-old Mandi underwent back home at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Pasqua Hospital in Regina, Sask., put her in remission for a second time. She was discharged from Pasqua Hospital on July 11 and made the trip to Seattle from her home by recreational vehicle. She and her family then met Dr. Delaney and their transplant team at Dr. Irwin Bernstein's Clinical Research Division lab. Dr. Delaney, an oncologist and researcher, has been conducting a unique clinical trial using cord blood for the last four years.
Mandi's brother, Jaden, was drafted in the first round (No. 14) by the St. Louis Blues on June 25 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Schwartz, who will join his brother at Colorado College this fall, was the leading scorer in the United States Hockey League with the Tri-City Storm this past season, notching 83 points (33 goals) in 60 games. He became the youngest player to lead the USHL in scoring since 1982-83 and his points total was the highest since Thomas Vanek in 2001-02.
Mandi began playing hockey when she was 6, and was captain of the women's team at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask., before attending Yale.
Complete recovery of Mandi's new immune system would take about a year. She'll be monitored every step of the way through blood tests to confirm that new blood cells are being produced and spend several months in Seattle before she can return home to Saskatchewan.