Local family needs help finding bone marrow donor for dad

By Lee Schoenbart
If Carmel Valley resident Cassie Doerfling sounds like an expert on Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, that’s because last November her husband, Joe Antonoff, was diagnosed with A.L.L.

“My dad died of cancer so I have a little bit of understanding of cancer in general, but this is a whole new arena,” Doerfling admitted. It’s a lot more difficult than just surgery, radiation and chemo. It invades the whole body so it’s harder to fight.

“I also didn’t realize that leukemia could be so fatal,” she said. “It’s a blood cancer which makes it so insidious.”

Almost daily, Doerfling takes Antonoff to Torrey Pines Scripps Green Hospital for any one of a series of blood tests. This is because he doesn’t have a sibling bone marrow match, so the hospital is providing chemotherapy to see if it works. Then the search begins for a bone marrow match, his best chance of survival.

Success is complicated for Antonoff because he has the adult version of A.L.L., which is much more prevalent in young children.

“It most likely will come back and then he’ll have to have a bone marrow transplant,” Doerfling said. “Then he’ll go into the national registry (National Marrow Program) and they’ll look for a bone marrow match that way.

“The problem is he’s 40, and there’s no statistics for 40 year olds, so they don’t know,” she said. “But the chances are high that it will come back and then, with the bone marrow transplant, he gets a new immune system. That causes Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) and kills the leukemia.

“GVHD is actually bad and good,” she said. “GVHD can be terminal, it can kill you, but you need a little bit of it in order to fight the leukemia.

Doerfling explained that when someone receives a bone marrow transplant, they receive a lot of chemo, they radiate and finally install a new immune system.

“Leukemia is a blood cancer and it’s the bone marrow,” she said. “Ideally, the new immune system attacks the old immune system and that would hopefully kill off the leukemia cells. The down side is, if it kills off too much the results could be long-term problems or death, so it’s kind of a slippery slope. It’s not ideal.”

The father of two children, Antonoff began experiencing symptoms just before last Thanksgiving when he came down with a cold he could not shake, and had trouble climbing stairs.

Anyone can support the effort to help find a donor for Antonoff. Doerfling said that until the end of February, people can go online and order a test kit that is sent free of charge. The password is JOSEPH, Antonoff’s name.

Doerfling said: “All they do is swab the inside of their cheek and, if they want to be part of the bone marrow registry, then they send it back in, and it’s all paid for, as long as they do it by the end of February.”

Related posts:

  1. Attorney’s physical exam turns him in new direction
  2. Scripps physician, researcher dies
  3. Salk cures defective gene
  4. Local research teams awarded $75M in funding
  5. Google Earth making waves with extension

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=4841

Posted by on Feb 11, 2010. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6



  • Look how you’ve grown! La Jolla Secret Garden tour celebrates 16 years
    The upcoming Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, a fundraiser for the La Jolla Historical Society, has come a long way from its first venture in 1999. Event co-founder Linda Marrone said, over time, the committee came up with ways to change and improve the tour, creating the “successful” event it is today. […]
  • La Jolla Community Calendar April 17-24
    Bird Rock Elementary will hold new student registration for the 2014-2105 school year, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 in the Bird Rock Elementary auditorium, 5371 La Jolla Hermosa Ave. An enrollment packet can be picked up in the office in advance to be completed before the registration date. (858) 488-0537. […]
  • Thanks for the non-memories
    When I considered whether to go to my 40th high school reunion — my first reunion ever — the first thing I thought about was whether I’d have to confront my high school nemesis, Medusa (not her real name). […]