WESTON, Fla. – According to the National Foundation for cancer research, more than 1.3 million people in the U.S. are either living with or in remission from a blood cancer.
Cap Cornwell describes himself as a high energy 72-year-old who’s enjoyed running his own paint contracting business for the past 50 years.
“I started the business right out of college and have been thankful and blessed to be guided in the right direction for so many years,” Cornwell said.
Now he’s taking guidance and direction on a more personal level after being diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called A.L. Amyloidosis.
“Amyloidosis is a protein disorder where this is a misfolded protein and it becomes insoluble in the blood and it gets deposited in various vital organs like heart, kidneys and liver,” said Dr. Chakra Chaulagain, an oncologist with Cleveland Clinic Weston.
The symptoms can be very non-specific and include fatigue, unexplained shortness of breath, leg swelling or a rash around the eyes, neck or upper chest, and changes in the voice and tongue.
“And sometimes a good clinician with some experience with amyloidosis can pick it up and refer those patients to us for further evaluation and treatment,” Chaulagain said.
“This is one of those life things that comes along. You treat it as best you can and get the best help you can,” Cornwell added.
In Cornwell’s case, that included treatment with chemotherapy followed by an FDA-approved immunotherapy.
“And these therapies are very well tolerated and extremely effective in most cases,” Chaulagain said.
“From the standpoint of managing the amyloid, I’m very fortunate and very happy with the way things are going,” Cornwell said.
In younger patients who are otherwise healthy, autologous stem cell transplants have also been beneficial in treating A.L. Amyloidosis.