The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 3, 2013

Jefferson woman fighting rare cancer shares her story

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Years of feeling a little out of sorts kept Jaime Hofstetter-Marrison guessing until she was finally diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on Jan 4, 2011.

She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma which only effects four to five of every 100,000 people. She learned of her diagnosis just after her 40th birthday.

Hofstetter-Marrison, married to David Marrison, opted for chemo therapy shots in the stomach twice a week; followed by a rest week. That schedule continued for six months.

She was able to skip half the side effects of normal chemotherapy with the stomach treatment.

“There is no cure (for multiple myeloma) but they can try and keep you in remission for as long as possible,” she said.

Hofstetter-Marrison said she had access to a new program at the Cleveland Clinic and decided to undergo a relatively new treatment as well. “I opted to do a stem cell transport. I was allowed to use my own stem cells,” she said.

Hofstetter-Marrison stayed at the hospital for three weeks. “You sit by a centrifuge,” she said of the process that reduces certain aspects of the blood count and then rebuilds them to fight the disease.

She is happy to make people aware of the disease and to speak for Ashtabula County Relay for Life and other cancer awareness organizations.

Multiple myeloma is normally a disease that strikes victims, mostly men, between the age of 55-60. That unfortunately appears to be changing.

“This is also a cancer that is getting younger and younger,” she said.

Hofstetter-Marrison said she had “strange symptoms” dating back 10 years, but nobody could figure out the problem.

“I kept going in search of answers,” she said.

Hofstetter-Marrison urged people to continue to ask tough questions if a person’s body doesn’t feel right.

The disease affects the bone marrow of its victim. “Plasma cells create tumors inside my bone marrow,” Hofstetter-Marrison said.

She said her family, which includes her daughters Gidget Analese, was able to get through the trying time by keeping a good sense of humor.

Relay for Life of Ashtabula County is scheduled for noon June 8 at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds. The organization is hoping to raise thousands of dollars to fight cancer and support its victims.

Organizers said all the walkers have their own story to tell because cancer has touched almost everyone in some way. A survivors walk is also held to honor those who have beaten the deadly disease.