Community Advocates

In order to stay up to date on latest treatments, drug discovery, clinical studies and how to cope with blood cancer every day, Blood-Cancer.com brings you frequent articles, points of view and advice from leading patient advocates and experts.

Alison Petok, MSW, LCSW, MPH

Alison Petok is an oncology social worker; she received her Master in Social Work and Master in Public Health from the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked in oncology research and currently serves as a clinical social worker in the Department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University. In her current role she serves as the palliative medicine social worker, provides clinical services to patients and families, mentors current MPH students, and manages biopsychosocial screening programs. (Read more)

Bob McEachern

Bob McEachern was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma in 2008. After a summer of unshakeable bronchitis that turned to pneumonia, a chest scan showed swollen lymph nodes that were given a 10% chance of being cancer. A few months later, a swollen node in his hip was biopsied, and that 10% chance turned into 100%. Follicular Lymphoma, a subtype of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma, is indolent (slow-growing) and incurable (but treatable). Like many FL patients, Bob chose to “watch and wait” after diagnosis, holding off treatment for two years until the swollen hip nodes resulted in lymphedema in his leg. Two years to the day of his diagnosis, he had the first of six rounds of a monoclonal antibody. (Read more)

Carole McCue

Carole McCue is an RN with over 45 years of nursing experience. She earned her RN from the Cochran School of Nursing and her BS and MS degrees from Pace University in Pleasantville, NY. She has achieved national certifications in her specialty areas of intensive care nursing (CCRN), quality improvement (CPHQ), and nursing education (CNE). Carole has served as Chief Nursing Officer of an acute care facility and has authored publications and presented at national conferences. (Read more)

Crystal Harper

Crystal Harper is a broadcast meteorologist for the ABC station in Norfolk, VA. She has been predicting the weather since 2010 and loves what she does. Only six months after starting her new broadcasting job in Virginia, Crystal was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in May 2017. (Read more)

Cynthia “MyelomaTeacher” Chmielewski

Cynthia (Cindy) Chmielewski attended Rutgers University graduating with degrees in Psychology and Education. Upon her graduation Cynthia secured her first teaching position and immediately fell in love with her chosen profession. Cynthia continued teaching for 28 years until she retired in 2009. In July 2008 Cynthia was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, after suffering for two years with debilitating back pain which was wrongly attributed to degenerative disc disease. Treatment with a stem cell transplant and targeted therapies put Cynthia’s cancer in a very good partial remission. She continues myeloma treatment with a maintenance therapy protocol and is enjoying an excellent quality of life. (Read more)

Elle Crofton

Elle is 30 years old and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA and is just getting back into the swing of everything after her stem cell transplant in 2015. After graduating from Temple University with a B.S. in Elementary Education, Elle was the founding teacher for a preschool in Center City. Less than a year into her first job as a teacher, Elle was constantly sick – but she chalked it up to being a first year teacher because every teacher will tell you the first year is your immune building year! Unfortunately for Elle, this was not the case and she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome deletion 5q. (Read more)

Hong Donaldson

Hong Donaldson is a proud mother to three beautiful and kind young adults, and wife to her best friend of 33 years, Thayer Donaldson. She is a CPA living in Wayne, NJ. The love and support of a close-knit family is her most valued gift. She feels very fortunate and blessed in so many ways. Today, she is most grateful for her family’s good health, especially her husband’s. (Read more)

Katie Ruane

Katie was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia on Friday 19th January 2007, whilst studying History of Art at the University of Edinburgh aged 22. To date, she has lived with blood cancer for just over 11 years. Katie is rare with both her diagnosis – most diagnosed with CML are male and over 40, and her age at diagnosis. Anyone diagnosed with cancer in the UK aged between 16-24 as a teenage young adult (TYA) is automatically rare. As an ‘ignored’ middle child, Katie quite enjoys the fact that her diagnosis is doubly rare. It would seem that nothing Katie does is ever ‘normal’. (Read more)

Lora Rhodes, MSW, LSW

Lora received her BS in psychology from Penn State University and MSW from Rutgers University. A social worker for over 25 years, she returned to clinical work in 2014 at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, where she began her career in oncology social work in 1996. In her current role she provides support services to patients from young adults to seniors. She provides psychosocial support in the multidisciplinary senior adult oncology, head and neck cancer, and cancer genetics clinics, and is a member of the lung, head and neck, genitourinary clinical teams. (Read more)

Matt Goldman

Matt was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma on May 2, 2001 at the age of 49. He had been feeling sick for several months leading up to the diagnosis, experiencing fatigue, fevers and night sweats. Eventually he was hospitalized because of severe anemia. During that stay he was diagnosed with Myeloma, an incurable, but treatable blood cancer. Matt had 4 different chemo regimens in less than a year, before arriving at one that was able to bring the cancer under control. (Read more)

Racheli Alkobey

Racheli is an inspiring cancer survivor looking to spread awareness on how to fight adversity with positivity and advocating for young adults with cancer. Racheli was diagnosed with Lymphoma at age 21 and video blogged her entire journey in its raw form. She laughs, she dances, she cries and, most importantly, she reminds us that everything is going to be okay. (Read more)

Robert Lewis

Rob is a 30 year old Captain in the United States Army and a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He has earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering. Rob lives in El Paso, Texas with his wife, Sarah, two year old daughter and newborn son. (Read more)

Ronni Gordon

Ronni Gordon is a Western Massachusetts-based freelance writer and former newspaper reporter writing about many of the same topics she covered in the Arts and Living sections, focusing on health and fitness, running and tennis, theater, and general interest features. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2003, she has had four stem cell transplants over a period of six years. She is officially cured but has chronic after effects including peripheral neuropathy, a susceptibility to squamous cell skin cancers, and graft vs. host disease. (Read more)

Shane Lee

Shane Lee is a manager at Mena, AR Pizza Hut. Shane has worked in Law Enforcement of various departments for 4 years, Volunteer Fire Dept. and EMS EMT First Responder for 13 years before Pizza Hut. In March 2018, Shane was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) at 56 yrs old. He is currently in Remission after 2 1/2 months of chemotherapy. (Read More)

Sierra Asplundh

Sierra was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September 2009 in Richmond, Va. At the time, she was currently enrolled as a full time student and a collegiate athlete as a member of the Division 1 Field Hockey program.
Sierra decided to go through the majority of her treatment at school, while adjusting to a part time enrollment status, and red shirting for the remainder of her sophomore season. Upon completion of six rounds of ABVD chemotherapy, Sierra was given her remission status in May 2010 and is currently 8 years deep of living in remission. (Read more)

Terrilyn McCormick

Terrilyn McCormick was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in 2015. It all started on Labor Day when abdominal pain landed her in the ER thinking she likely had gallstones. A CT scan revealed swollen lymph nodes throughout her abdomen and back. After several more months of feeling fatigued, continued abdominal pain, weight loss and surgery to biopsy a lymph node, she received a diagnosis of Follicular Lymphoma – a slow growing but incurable form of lymphoma. (Read more)

Vincent Goodwin

Vincent was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in 2003 at the age of 15 years old. Born March 4th, 1988 he is currently celebrating his 30th birthday by road-tripping across North America to raise awareness. Because his mother worked for the University of Penn healthcare system, he was treated at one of the best Children’s Hospitals in the world. One thing that made the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania so great is the community that Vincent felt from all of the staff from volunteer to doctor. As an only child to a single mother, having that community of people who were caring, encouraging, supportive and driven was really important in shaping him as a 15 year old junior in high school. (Read more)