The North Bend Eagle


2023 has been a fight for Throener family

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 12/27/23

Trisha Throener was 40 years old and healthy when she noticed hard lumps under her arms on Feb. 15, 2023. She went to her doctor and was told it was probably an infected hair follicle.

Later her daughter pointed out to her a large bruise on her hip. The next day she had another bruise, was short of breath and had a headache and flank pain. Her husband Michael was already at work so she called her father, Stephen Dirkschneider to take her to the emergency room. Her husband arrived about 10 minutes after they arrived.

Trisha Throener, middle row on left, has had great support from her family.

At the ER blood for lab tests were drawn and a CT scan of her abdomen and head was done. Her husband, dad and sister Tonia Steel, went with her to hear the ER doctor tell her she had “some sort of leukemia.”
Dr. Stefano Tarantolo, an oncologist with a specialty in lymphoma and leukemia, happened to be in the hospital making rounds. He came to the ER to talk to the family. He introduced himself and Throener immediately liked him.

“I knew I had the best,” she said. “We clicked. I trusted him with everything I had.”

Tarantolo ordered some cultures drawn and then Trisha was transported to Omaha Methodist by a rescue squad. It was Feb. 20. She was put in a room on 6 South, the oncology/hematology floor, and there she would stay for more than a month.

Michael and their children, Olivia, 17, Miah, 14, and Owen, 9, followed her to the hospital.

“We made this a family affair,” Trisha said. “We included them whenever we could. It was hard on all of us.”

An MRI of the brain was done, which was negative, and a pic line was placed as a site to administer medication.

On Feb. 21, a bone marrow biopsy was done to get a diagnosis. It finally came.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia FLI 3+ gene mutation. The FLT3 gene helps regulate cell survival and reproduction. The gene mutation causes immature blood cells to multiply uncontrollably. It is a rare type of leukemia, happening only in 1 in 1,200 cases.

Treatment was immediately started with a 7 and 3 consisting of two medications. One for seven days lasting 24 hours a day and three days of another medication. Trisha was given 15 minute breaks to change clothes daily.

“The three day medication was a tough one to get through,” Throener said. “They gave me a full dose since I was young and healthy. I bled from everywhere, even through my teeth.”

She received “hundreds” of units of blood and platelets during this time.

“When you donate you do save a life,” Throener said, encouraging anyone able to donate blood.

Throener’s numbers (white, red blood cells) went to zero. She was put in isolation with a few family members allowed in as long as they were healthy, and she was not allowed to leave her room. Her children had moved in with her parents, Stephen and Daralyn Dirkschneider in Snyder. He husband spent every weekend with her.

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After 32 days, she was dismissed to home and continued on chemotherapy, pills and six- days-a-month IV chemotherapy. This was for four months, and then another bone marrow biopsy was done.

The biopsy showed that there was still residual leukemia in her system.

On June 13, Trisha had an appointment with Dr. Lori Maness at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Buffett Cancer Center. Throener thought they were going to talk about a bone marrow transplant. With her sister and husband beside her, she was told she needed a stem cell transplant, and tests began that day to make it happen.

“It was very hard because we weren’t expecting any of that,” Throener said. “‘Let’s get it done,’ I said. I’m strong. I’m stubborn. I want to be home for the holidays.”

Throener’s sister Tonia was half a match, but doctors wanted a full match on 10 out of 10 markers. Using Be the Match organization, a perfect match was found. On Aug. 22, Trisha entered the UNMC Buffett Cancer Center. She had chemotherapy the from Aug. 23 to 28. This was so harsh that it left blisters in her mouth. She couldn’t eat and had a nasal tube placed for nutrition. The IV and nasal tube were in for 15 days.

On Aug. 30, she received the stem cells.

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