After being diagnosed in 2012 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Adrian McDaniel was uncertain of what the future held for her. Seven years later, she stood face-to-face and embraced the young man who donated his stem cells for her life-changing transplant

On Wednesday, January 30, 2019, which just so happened to be the coldest day of the decade, a heart-warming and long awaited moment came to fruition. In front of physicians, nurses and family members, 33-year-old mother of three Adrian McDaniel met her stem cell donor, 24-year-old former U.S. Marine Corps Reserve member, Matthew Erbe, for the first time at a celebration held at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Chicago, located in Zion, Illinois. After being diagnosed in 2012 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which continued to persist despite treatment, McDaniel arrived at CTCA® Chicago in 2017 searching for options to treat her aggressive cancer. McDaniel was one of the 10 to 15 percent of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients who have a refractory disease that either does not respond to initial therapy or progresses after an initial partial response.

At CTCA Chicago, doctors walked McDaniel through all of her options to develop a personalized plan, including the use of a combination drug therapy, which at the time was a new regimen, but today is commonly used to treat her disease type.

“The drug therapy that we used successfully put Adrian into remission, long enough for her to receive a much-needed allogeneic stem cell transplant,” said Dr. Syed Abutalib, Assistance Director of the Stem Cell Transplant & Cell Therapy Program at CTCA Chicago. “An allogeneic stem cell transplant is a procedure where stem cells are collected from a donor and transplanted into the patient.”

None of McDaniel's family members were a match, so her name was placed into the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) registry. Erbe was found to be a perfect match. The meeting took place only weeks after the two-year anniversary of the stem-cell transplant at CTCA Chicago, which has left McDaniel with no evidence of cancer in her body.

Erbe greeted McDaniel with a bouquet of flowers and met her husband, Cody, their three children and other family members. More tears of joy were shed when McDaniel presented Erbe with a handmade cross-stitched canvas with signatures from her family and friends.

A special moment, which happened off camera, took place when McDaniel’s children, ages 13, 11 and 9, stood up from their seats and gave Matt and his parents giant, tear filled hugs.

"The last several years have been an up and down journey for me," McDaniel said. "From the moment I walked into CTCA, I knew I was in the right place, with the right people. I'm so happy I was able to meet Matt today and share my deepest gratitude for him giving me a second chance to be a mom to my kids." Erbe says his decision to step up and follow through with the donation process was an easy one for him. "When I was called by the NMDP and told I was a match, I immediately said yes," Erbe said. "Being Adrian's donor has created a bond between us that I think is hard for others to comprehend. I'm proud to have played a role in Adrian's story and I know we will remain friends long after this."

The Stem Cell Transplant & Cellular Therapy Program at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Chicago is a Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) Accredited program with expertise in diagnosing and treating hematologic diseases using sophisticated therapies and technologies, delivered through a personalized and customized approach.