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Boar rancher fights cancer, regulations

Undergoes bone marrow transplant

March 7, 2012
By Jenny Lancour ( , Daily Press

WATSON - Jeff DeBacker of Watson is fighting for his life in a battle against cancer, the second time around.

DeBacker, 58, underwent a bone marrow transplant last Thursday and is now waiting to see if the process was successful.

Nearly three years ago, DeBacker was diagnosed with a blood disease known as mantle cell lymphoma. After treating the stage 4 disease with chemotherapy, he was cleared of the cancer for about two years.

Last fall, the cancer returned. He underwent more chemotherapy at Marquette General Hospital and is now undergoing a new cancer treatment procedure at a downstate hospital.

In mid-February, DeBacker was admitted to the Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University in Detroit for a stem cell bone marrow transplant. His donor is his sister, Debbie Chase of Gladstone, who underwent the blood collection process at the cancer center and is now home.

Prior to Thursday's transplant, DeBacker had seven days of chemotherapy to completely destroy his own bone marrow. His sister's stem cells were transplanted into his bone marrow along with antibiotics.

"That went really well," Chase said Tuesday. "Right now we're waiting to see if it works. We should know by Saturday." She said her brother's doctors are really pleased with how well the transplant went.

His doctors considered him a good candidate for the transplant because of his stage 1 cancer, his age, and his current health condition, DeBacker said during an interview at his home last month.

"There's a 50-percent chance of creating non-cancerous bone marrow," he said. "I'm kind of excited. I want to see this behind me so I can enjoy the summer."

DeBacker will be in isolation at the hospital for one month. The following two months, he must reside within 60 miles from the medical center.

Because of his recuperation period, DeBacker will not be allowed to return to his farm and cannot have contact with farm animals for a period of time.

DeBacker and his wife, Reba, own a game ranch preserve where clients hunt boar, deer, elk and buffalo. DeBacker has been active in fighting a Department of Natural Resources rule to have game boars disposed of state-wide by April 1.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,



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