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Clallam County commissioner's cancer enters second stage

Peninsula Daily News

Clallam County Commissioner Steve Tharinger's battle with lymphoma has entered a second stage as he prepares for a stem cell transplant in August.

The transplant and the massive chemotherapy that will precede it will keep him in Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle for a week to 10 days in August, and at his home in Dungeness for two to three weeks more.

Tharinger was optimistic discussing his treatment after the commissioners' work session Monday.

``Compared to where I was when I was diagnosed to where I am now, I'm winning the battle,'' he said.

His non-Hodgkins lymphoma simply was stubborn, he said.

``We need to match the treatment to the tenacity of the cancer. I don't have any reason to believe that it won't be successful.''

White blood cells

Lymphoma occurs due to an error in how lymphocytes (infection-fighting white blood cells) are produced.

The abnormal cells duplicate faster or can live longer than normal cells. They can grow in the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood, or other organs.

Tharinger initially underwent six weeks of chemotherapy last fall.

He underwent four additional days of chemo Wednesday through Sunday. He will return to Virginia Mason in mid-July and early August for intensive treatments that essentially will destroy his immune system.

In the meantime, he will have blood drawn to use as a new source of stem cells. They will be filtered from his blood in a process called apheresis.

A machine will purge any remaining malignant cells, and the healthy stem cells will be frozen.

The rest of his blood will be returned to his body.


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