BOSTON (CBS) – The Shertenlieb family received some great news Thursday evening.
Just 16 days after Rich's wife Mary was diagnosed with AML – a form of Leukemia – she is now cancer-free.
"I got a call after I went home (from the hospital) at 5 p.m., and my wife is crying. A doctor came in and said the chemo worked, and she is cancer free and is now officially in remission," Rich said Friday morning. "Sixteen days after showing up with what they said was one of the highest blast cell counts they've ever witnessed, she is cancer-free."
Mary will still have to go through a 6-7 month cycle of less-powerful chemotherapy, but by the end of the summer, if all goes well, she'll be done with cancer.
But in just a week or two she'll be able to eat again (she hasn't had a real meal since Feb. 17) and, most importantly, see her two kids for the first time since being admitted to the hospital.
Mary joined Toucher & Rich Friday morning to give thanks to everyone that has sent her and Rich well wishes during her battle.
"There have been so many emails, so many friends that have cooked meals and brought them to the house, picked up Hank from school, family members by my side the entire time. This is really giving me strength," she said. "Everybody has been so helpful and so supportive I really feel that's what has given me the strength to fight this."
"We are just thrilled. My dad was with me when we got the news and we just sat there sobbing," said Mary. "The other route would have been very rough. The fact that they got all the cancer, all the leukemia on the first round is really a miracle."
"I asked a nurse how rare this is, like someone is in remission this quick. She said of the 10 years she's been in this unit she remembers one case that was close to this," said Rich. "When I first got there, they said the one pro about AML is that it attacks so violently and so quick, if you attack just as violently and quick with the chemo it, for some reason, responds really, really well."
"Boy you want to talk about really, really well: Cancer-free in 16 days. In my opinion that is truly a miracle," said Rich.
Doctors zapped Mary with a heavy dose of chemotherapy in her first round hoping it would kill all the cancer, and that's exactly what it did. She walked into the hospital with cancer in 80 percent of her body, and as of Thursday it was all gone.
"It's the best news anyone has told me," said Rich. "This is a Tyson-esque 90-second knockout that no one expected. We are elated and shocked, more than anything."
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