The experience of a prolific and famous writer fighting Leukemia
Robert Slater (65, married + 3) is a prolific and well known American writer. He was born in New York City and graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966, where he majored in political science. He received a masters of science degree in international relations from the London School of Economics in 1967.
He worked for UPI and Time Magazine for many years, in both the United States and the Middle East. Slater authored and/or co-authored many books on distinguished personalities, among them: “Rabin of Israel”, “Martha: On Trial, in Jail, and on a Comeback”,” SOROS: The Unauthorized Biography…”, “Donald Trump…”, and “Jack Welch & The G.E. Way…”.
He has lived in Jerusalem since 1971 where he continues writing and leading an active professional life.
He told us:
“It was the summer of 2005. I suddenly got a cold, a bad cold. That fall, I felt a shortness of breath while walking around. I had blood tests that showed my white cells were off the charts; my hemoglobin was also quite low. My family doctor sent me to the hospital the very next day. I was diagnosed on November 7th, 2005, with ALL (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and was immediately hospitalized at the Hadassah Medical Center – Ein Karem, Jerusalem. I had 4 rounds of chemotherapy ending in the spring. By April 1st. I was considered in remission and resumed my active life.
“However, by September 2006, after returning from a trip to the US, the doctors told me I had relapsed into the illness. They believed that I should be treated with a BMT (Bone Marrow Transplant) and luckily they found an unrelated donor within 2 weeks.
“Luckily for me, Dr. M. Y. Shapira was investigating BM transplants for “elderly” people, (I hate it when they use the word “elderly”; at the age of 62,I certainly did not feel old). In some countries they don’t consider people over 60 eligible for transplants. When they found the donor, we began preparation for the BMT. I went for another round of chemotherapy to eliminate my sick bone marrow cells, and the donor was “harvested” for healthy bone marrow cells. I received the transplant over two consecutive days with each procedure lasting 45 minutes.
“The Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cancer Immunotherapy, Cell Therapy and Transplantation Research Center in the Hadassah Medical center is regarded as one of the best of its kind in the world. It was led by Prof. Shimon Slavin, and now by Prof. R. Or; I was treated by wonderful physicians like Dr. Michael Shapira and Benjamin Gesuntheit – I was really lucky.
“I had the love and support of my wife Elinor and our wonderful children, Miriam, Adam, and Rachel, plus Shimi and Tal, Miriam and Adam’s spouses respectively. My wife put everything aside and made taking care of me her top priority. I truly feel that we have fought the disease as a team.
“I had to take special medication against BMT rejection and had only moderate side-effects, such as dryness of the mouth, and some gastrointestinal problems, I did have to change my alimentary habits (much less meat; much more pasta), and I had my blood type changed. I lost 20 kilos of weight.
“Since the transplant I have made several trips to the US. There are periods when I have worked 10-12 hours a day and I am managing 2-3 new projects that will be published in 2009. For the most part, I thankfully feel quite normal”.