Mark Buenconsejo, 51, suffers from systemic scleroderma, a terminal disease that causes skin to tighten, attacks organs and that could claim his life within five years. Mark Buenconsejo finds it difficult to use his hands and fingers, where the skin has tightened and hardened. The disease has also affected his lungs.
"It can get your stomach, kidneys, basically all the organs, the lungs are the most affected by it hardening of tissue in the lungs," said Buenconsejo. "It makes it difficult to breathe."
Buenconsejo will receive the experimental stem cell treatment, which he fought his insurance company for -- the procedure will cost $350,000. The donor cells come from an umbilical cord that was saved after a woman gave birth.
"I had no idea that was even part of the study, so when we heard about it we were really excited," said Buenconsejo. "I'm pretty optimistic about it, but to tell you the truth, you get a nice paragraph of the positives but you get about three pages of the negatives, the risks you're taking."
On July 13, Buenconsejo will travel to Seattle for two weeks of preparation leading up to his treatment. He will continue to receive chemotherapy and radiation, before receiving the stem cells. His wife, Hilary Buenconsejo, will blog about his progress at that time.
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