Marrow Transplant Completed

January 17, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

Judy Marsh is coming home.

Fifty-two days after the Pasadena resident entered the isolation ward at the Duke University Cancer Center in North Carolina, she will finally be able to sleep in her own bed in her own home on East Shore Drive.

Marsh was in Durham to undergo a controversial treatment for breast cancer -- a procedure her insurance company calls an experimental,but one her doctors say may be her only chance at survival.

The procedure, called an autologous bone marrow transplant, removed and froze some of her bone marrow at the same time intense chemotherapy -- several weeks worth in just a few days -- was administered.

Doctors hope the chemotherapy, which burned up the remaining bone marrow in her body, also destroyed the cancer cells.

If all goes well, the frozen marrow, which was injected into her body, will regenerate.

Roland Marsh said yesterday that there already is some evidence tumors are regressing; more tests are scheduled in six and 12 weeks at Duke to see if the chemotherapy has forced the cancer to retreat.

"Some tumors are gone, other look like they are degenerating," he said. "It looks real promising to us."

He said he has taken his 49-year-old wife for a ride in his truck and several short walks around the Duke campus.

She was released from the hospital Sunday and has beenresting at an apartment the couple rented nearby.

But Judy Marsh did not have an easy time with the treatment.

Roland Marsh said she nearly died twice last month, when she contracted pulmonary anemia and fluid filled her lungs.

"She had some problems, but she's doing good," he said.

The Marsh's insurance company, Blue Cross, firstsaid it would pay for the treatment, then reversed itself, saying the procedure is experimental. Marsh's file is being reviewed by the Federal Employment Program, which sets insurance policy for federal employees and retirees covered by Blue Cross.

Roland Marsh retired last year from the Social Security Administration.

Another Anne Arundel woman filed suit last year in Federal Court in Baltimore against Blue Cross, seeking payment for the same treatment Marsh received.

A judge is expected to rule on that soon.

And Marsh's lawyer saidlast month he expects Blue Cross will come through with payment.

However, in the mean time, neighbors and friends dipped into their own pockets and contributed more than $125,000 to get her into the Duke University Cancer Center.

Roland Marsh said his wife's hospital bill was $188,000 and he will try to make up the difference himself.

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