A few years ago, Diane Sullivan, an assistant dean at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, realized the dark circles around her eyes weren’t from being tired.
“I looked like I had taken hockey pucks to my eyes or I was a victim of domestic violence,” said Sullivan, 59, of North Andover. “There was bruising around my eyes and sometimes into my cheek.”
It took visits to several doctors, and many investigative procedures, before she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called light chain amyloidosis. Sullivan said the cause is unknown and there is no cure.
She underwent six months of chemotherapy, which was unsuccessful. It was determined a stem cell transplant would be best. Using her own harvested stem cells, Sullivan had the transplant in 2012.
“A Journey Through a Stem Cell Transplant” — produced by the law school’s Educational Forum television series — followed her story.
Sullivan, who is a graduate of the school and has taught there for 25 years, has been a producer and host of the program since it started 18 years ago.
When fellow producer Kathy Villare suggested taping her medical journey, Sullivan said “absolutely not.” Then, she said, she realized “here I am producing public programming and I am unwilling; I should be willing.”
The show includes hospital footage, as well as Villare conducting a post-operative interview with Sullivan. Later, Sullivan interviews her doctors.
“Every month there is a little improvement in the right direction,” she said.” I am feeling fine and grateful for all that. I say every day I am here is a gift. We will see where it goes.”
“Journey of a Stem Cell Transplant” debuted in November 2013 and recently won a Clarion Award for best informational television show, presented by the Association for Women in Communications, based in Alexandria, Va.
“I get a tremendous amount of feedback from people with life-threatening diseases or who are going to have some kind of transplant,” Sullivan said. “They tell their stories and ask questions. They use it for inspiration.”
“Educational Forum” is broadcast 12:30 p.m. Saturdays on New England Cable News and 11 a.m. Sundays on Comcast SportsNet.
Wendy Killeen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.