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Jason Mounts – Leukemia

Read Jason's Story.

Jason Mounts, an attorney, Pennsylvania Army National Guard captain, and avid runner, didn’t expect a cancer diagnosis last fall.

He’d felt unwell for a few weeks and thought it might be the flu. But when he developed a rash on his leg, Jason went to the emergency department at his local hospital. There he learned that his white blood cell count was unusually high.

Jason’s doctor diagnosed him with leukemia, a type of blood cancer that results from an abnormal increase in white blood cells. As part of the immune system, white blood cells help the body fight infection. With leukemia, white blood cells divide too fast and crowd out other healthy cells, leaving the body vulnerable to infection.

Jason came to UPMC Shadyside and began treatment with Alison Sehgal, MD, a medical oncologist and hematologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Sehgal recommended several rounds of chemotherapy, which went well, and felt a stem cell transplant would give Jason his best chance at a total recovery.

A stem cell transplant is a procedure that replaces a patient’s own blood cells with blood cells from a healthy donor. In Jason’s case, his sister Erin—another runner—was a match. Jason’s transplant was scheduled for March, but in light of COVID-19, Dr. Sehgal recommended continuing chemotherapy and waiting until it would be safer to complete the transplant.

Knowing that staying active could help in his recovery, Jason began regular workouts in the cardiac rehabilitation gym at UPMC Shadyside. But as his transplant grew closer, Jason needed to limit his exposure to others because he’d undergo treatments to suppress his immune system in preparation for the transplant. His transplant coordinator found a hospital room with a treadmill, and Jason moved in – along with the weights he brought from home – and continued his workouts there.

Jason received his transplant in May and is back at home doing well. He receives follow-up care once a week at Hillman in Shadyside and is grateful to Dr. Sehgal, the inpatient cancer team, and the cardiac rehabilitation team at UPMC Shadyside for the care he received.