Neal Kiner: Hope and Remission After an Acute Myeloid Leukemia Diagnosis

“Fox Chase gave me something that no other cancer center would give me. They gave me hope.”
‐Neal Kiner

I’m about to turn 84, feel good, and look much younger than my years.

My wife Alice and I have been married 54 years and live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. We have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren.

A Surprise Diagnosis

In April 2020, a routine blood test showed that my white blood cell count had dropped. At first, my general practitioner thought I had a vitamin B12 deficiency and gave me injections and supplements for a few months. When my counts didn’t improve, I was referred to an oncologist.

The oncologist immediately requested a bone marrow biopsy, and on August 17, 2020, I was diagnosed with AML—acute myeloid leukemia. I was in total shock because I had no symptoms.

The oncologist said he had a program that could extend my life 18 to 24 months, but added that he’d never had anyone live that long. He advised me to get my affairs in order. I decided to shop around.

Finding the Right Treatment

Once I had a diagnosis, I sought out different opinions. They all basically amounted to the same thing and weren’t particularly optimistic.

Except for the one from Fox Chase Cancer Center. Fox Chase was the only cancer center that I could find that offered an inpatient program specifically designed to treat my AML through its Bone Marrow Transplant Program.

The other centers were outpatient. After you got infusions, you were sent home. If you got very sick, you couldn’t go back to the hospital. You had to go to an emergency room, where you could wait hours, only to be seen by someone who was not specifically knowledgeable about your condition and case.

At Fox Chase, you stay overnight where there are doctors, nurses, and staff 24/7 who treat cases such as mine. It was a no-brainer.

Promising Results

Neil Kiner with his wife Alice.
Neil Kiner with his wife Alice.

I spent 21 days at Fox Chase, and when I left in December 2020, I was in remission. I’ve been in remission ever since. I am on a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved protocol, which has a median survival rate of 24.7 months. This means l have a 50/50 chance of living past the median, maybe as much as five or more years.

I am more than satisfied with the care I have received at Fox Chase. The doctors, nurses, and support staff have been terrific, especially Dr. Michael Jay Styler, my hematologist/oncologist. He is supportive, calm, caring, and knowledgeable. I can’t say enough good things about him.

Quality Time

I know I’m walking on landmines, but right now I have time—quality time to spend with my wonderful wife, family, and friends.

Fox Chase gave me something else that no one else would give me: They gave me hope. They gave me encouragement to battle this challenge that lies ahead.

So, if you are going through something similar, I’d strongly recommend you check out Fox Chase.