Beaumont cardiologist faces cancer fight, urges bone marrow donor registration

Dr. Steven Sooudi and daughter Sarah

Dr. Steven Sooudi, a 44-year-old Beaumont cardi­ologist who has been saving lives since he started practic­ing medicine in 2003 is now fighting for his own after being diagnosed with acute myelo­blastic leukemia (AML).

“One of the things I see with my patients is how they cope,” Sooudi said. “Some people when they get sick, their world just falls apart … and some people still find something positive. They are appreciative of life. I always tried to absorb some of that in myself, in case I ever got sick. But what I found out is there is no way you can prepare for that.”

Sooudi said that regardless of his preparation for the worst, like many of the patients he treated, he still experienced the grief of being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.

Unlike many of his patients, however, Sooudi discovered his illness after a self-per­formed, self-ordered blood count Tuesday, Sept. 3, fol­lowing Labor Day weekend.

“I had been feeling pretty good. The week before I went running and ran two miles. I worked in the hospital all weekend for Labor Day,” Sooudi said.

Sooudi said he discovered some bruises and spots on his arm and a sore in his mouth that wouldn’t heal.

“I went ahead and ordered some labs so I could tell myself, ‘I’m OK’ and then I found out I’m not,” he said.

Initially, Sooudi didn’t sus­pect he had leukemia, only knowing that his blood count was abnormal. A colleague of his from Texas Oncology in Beaumont confirmed the bad news with Sooudi — he did in fact have AML, a deadly can­cer of the blood and bone mar­row.

Sooudi said he is currently undergoing chemotherapy at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The average patient goes through six months of chemotherapy, he said.

“The first (cycle of chemo­therapy) is called induction. It’s a very strong one that makes you very sick,” he said. “After that, they do smaller ones, less medicine but still very strong. … As you go through they take bone mar­row … and look at it under the microscope to see if the leuke­mia is still there.”

Sooudi said that if the can­cer isn’t found to be in remis­sion, there is a chance that he will require a bone marrow transplant.

“Some people if they don’t go into remission, they will have to have a stem cell trans­plant,” he said. “They will give them medicine that com­pletely eradicates the leuke­mia, but it also eradicates their normal bone marrow com­pletely. So they get some cells from another person and infuse that into the person to rescue them.

“Your bone marrow is what provides all the cells in your blood — all of your platelets that provide clotting, the white cells in your immune system, your red cells that provide oxy­gen. We can’t live without bone marrow. It’s very important.”

And in the worst-case sce­nario that Sooudi did need a bone marrow transplant, he said he couldn’t accept just any donation.

“For many people it’s a life-saving treatment, but you have to be just the right match,” he said. “To find a match is rare. You have to look at thousands of people to sometimes find a match. So, the more people that enroll (to donate bone marrow), the more lives they’re going to save.”

Sooudi said his sister is cur­rently undergoing tests to see if she is a match, but that even though she is his sibling, there is only a 25 percent chance that she is a match to his bone marrow type. Going through a bone marrow registry may be a more viable option, Sooudi explained.

“There’s thousands and thousands of people in the reg­istry,” he said. “In learning about all this, I was surprised to see how many people had registered themselves. It’s a good thing to do.”

Sooudi said bone marrow donor registration drives like the Saturday, Oct. 26, drive at Parkdale Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the Be The Match foundation are crucial to leukemia patients.

“They’re very important,” he said. “With stem cell (trans­plants), instead of chances being 30 percent (survival rate), your chances are 50 or 60 percent. That person’s life (a donor) might be saving … it might be someone next door to them or someone in Alaska, but it’s a chance to save a life. Without that treatment, that person is going to die.”

Sooudi, who awaits further chemo treatments, says although he has lost his hair and the sickness has been hor­rible, the hardest part for him has been the separation from his children.

“A lot of things have been taken away from me,” he said. “Sometimes when I am really sick, if my immune system is down, I don’t want to get a cold from my kids. So there are some times when I am in Beaumont but I can’t even see them. I have to stay away from them, and that’s been hard.”

Sooudi, who reminded that the Oct. 26 drive isn’t neces­sarily for him, encourages Southeast Texans to take the time to register to give bone marrow.

“It’s unlikely that someone in Beaumont is going to be my match, but increasing the num­ber of donors and people that are willing to enter the registry helps everybody,” he said.

Sooudi’s ex-wife and moth­er of his two children, Dr. Jes­sica Jones, 41, also a physi­cian, has worked hard to raise money for the cause, he said.

“She and my children have been most involved in this,” he said. “I’ve pretty much just been sick. I haven’t done a whole lot to organize this drive, but I do endorse it. I am a person with leukemia and I may die from this, so I just want to give something back.”

Be The Match at Parkdale Mall

Be The Match is holding a bone marrow donor registration drive Saturday, Oct. 26, in the “sunken court” at Parkdale Mall in Beaumont from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Potential donors will fill out a questionnaire and receive an oral swab to test for match­ing. Donors of all races are welcome, but those of African- American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American descent are especially encouraged, as race and ethnicity do matter when it comes to finding a bone marrow match, according to Benita Davis, donor recruiter for Be The Match foundation. Joining the national registery is free if you are between the ages of 18-44. If you are 45 or older, a donation is needed to pay donor typing expenses. Matches are found through DNA samples, which are obtained by an oral swab, done on-site at the drive, Davis said.

“They’re on the registry until their 61st birthday,” Davis said. “They may become a match two months from now; they may become a match 10 years from now. They may never become a match.”

Davis said if potential donors are found to be a match, the method of donation depends on what the patient needs.

“About 75 percent of the time it’s through peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC),” she said.

According to Be The Match website, PBSC donation is a non-surgical procedure.

“For five days leading up to donation, you will be given injections of filgrastim,” the website states. “Filgrastim is a medication that increases the number of blood-forming cells in your bloodstream. On the day of donation, blood is removed through a needle on one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through the other arm.”

One in four patients like Dr. Steven Sooudi will need a bone marrow transplant. About 14,000 patients a year depend on unrelated donors, Be The Match literature states.

For more information, visit www.bethematchfoundation.org/goto/teamsooudi or call 1-800-627-7692.

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Comments

YOU Steve Sooudi are a wonderful man!!!!

You know you have saved my life more than once. I always get tickled when you use me in your conferences. You are more than my Doctor, you are my friend. I am honored that you have let me into your life You are a strong man and can do this.I carry you in my heart and prayers!!! Fight the good fight my "rockstar" doctor!

You are in our prayers

Dr. Sooudi~

The kindness you showed my mom, Linda Westmoreland is appreciated more than you will ever know. I remember the heartfelt compassion you displayed for our family during mom's fall and medical issues. It was very important to my mom and dad, Don Westmoreland that you were made aware that they wish you the very best. Please know that as you embark on your treatment journey, the prayers of our family are being lifted up for you and your family.

praying for you

My family will keep you in our prayers. You have taken such amazing care of my dad and we can't thank you enough. God bless you and your children.

Good Times

This is hard to place into words. I have had many oppertunities for learning. From the USAF, College and life journey. I consider myself lucky to cross paths with some teachers and not with others. During our friendship you have taught me much about Cardiology. Not just the surface but very deep knowledge. You have taght me how to stay '"light" in heavy situations. Thank you for all you have done for me. You are at the top of the list in my book of '"things learned". Please beat this silly disease so we can continue to grow as friends. Tiger Lillie and I are keeping you in Prayer and thoughts. You are a talented person all the way around. Not to mention a great Interventional Cardiologit. Never give up '"dude".

A great man

I do not have enough kind words to express about this man. He has a gift of bringing out the best in his patients. He encouraged my Stepfather (Marty Bush) to lose over 100 pounds. He was his biggest cheerleader. I do not understand how these things happen to anyone especially a man who has dedicated his life to saving others. Our prayers go out to Dr. Sooudii and his family as they tackle this monster we call cancer. May God heal him from this terrible disease and may many be moved to be the match for someone who is fighting for their life.

Your a hero

You saved my dads life after his heart attack. My family is so thankful that you was at the hospital that day. We are praying for you and for a full recovery.

Best Wishes from the Koch family

Dr Sooudi - You have been such a big part of our family for so many years. From your dad operating on me at age 12, to you caring for my brother Bill and you being my own cardiologist. Just know you are in our families thoughts and prayers. My nephew is currently seeking treatment at MD Anderson - he is one tough cookie and so are you. Hang in there. We love you! If you do end up needing a donor, I would be very honored to be your match. Take care and I bet your still handsome without hair.

dr soudii

U saved my life more than once u my hero and always will be. U r n my thoughts and prayers everyday

Beaumont cardiologist faces cancer fight, urges bone marrow

Hi, I check your blog like every week. Your writing style is witty, keep up the good work!

Bone marrow transplants work

Well wishes to the doctor. The best decision he's made so far is going to MD Anderson. Why people stay in Beaumont for cancer treatment when the world's best cancer treatment is just 75 miles away is beyond me. My dad survived his bone marrow transplant back in 2000 and in 2013 he's alive and well. Thank God we drove to HOuston.

Beaumont cardiologist faces cancer fight, urges bone marrow

Hi, this weekend is fastidious in favor of me, since this moment i am reading this enormous educational article
here at my residence.

Well wishes

He saved my dad's life last November by placing a stint in his right coronary and shocking him on the table as my dad coded. On behalf of the family of Tom Davis, get well soon and prayers for you, your family and the medical team treating you!!

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