Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.
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I had enjoyed 50 years of nearly perfect physical health and chalked up 29 years of perfect attendance with my current employer. But at 2 a.m. on January 2, 2010, I found myself in the fetal position on my bedroom floor in paralyzing, excruciating pain. My sweet wife, Darlene, did her best to comfort me, but there was no relief.
Two days later, she wheeled me into a urology clinic for a diagnosis for what was suspected to be kidney stones. During the evaluation, I received a non-contrasted CT scan of my lower abdomen. Within minutes, the urologist began to explain the size and orientation of my kidney stone, methods for treatment and short-term expectations. But in the same breath, he told me I had a serious issue with my right lung and that I needed to see a primary care physician (PCP) immediately.
Over the next several weeks, I went to see multiple physicians and went through a battery of tests, including X-rays, blood work and a contrasted CT scan. Radiologist reports clearly described the suspicious image noted by my urologist as multilobar pneumonia. As a result, my PCP prescribed strong antibiotics, quarantined me as a precaution to avoid contagion and continued with more blood work and saliva tests. The problem was I was not coughing and I had no fever or irregular blood counts, none of the things normally associated with pneumonia. Uncomfortable with these findings, my PCP referred me to a pulmonologist for more testing. At the pulmonologist’s office, I received a pulmonary function test, which indicated I had only a 60 percent breathing capacity. The pulmonologist reviewed the blood work and finally indicated he needed to do a bronchoscopy to sample the lung tissue. On January 29, we went back to see the pulmonologist for the final diagnosis: non-Hodgkin MALT lymphoma in my right lung. Our cancer journey began…
Searching for a treatment provider & options
News of my diagnosis spread quickly. My name went on countless prayer lists and was given to prayer teams in churches literally around the globe. The elders in my church laid hands on me and anointed me with oil, and my family, coworkers, friends and I began praying for healing.
I was immediately referred to a local cancer facility, where I underwent traditional workups for staging my disease, including a bone marrow biopsy, blood work, X-rays, and PET and CT scans. While waiting on numerous appointments and test results, over the next few weeks I became a student of my newly found condition. I read books, searched the Internet and talked to other medical professionals. Quickly realizing the critical role proper diet and exercise would play into my overall treatment plan, I made significant life changes to better prepare me for what lay ahead. Many kudos to my bride for countless hours in the kitchen.
Finally, the time came to meet with the oncologist to review my complete test results. The evaluation confirmed the cancer was restricted to my right lung and I was encouraged to begin treatment right away. Since I am naturally the analytical, inquisitive type, I asked many more detailed questions regarding the proposed treatment plan. I also asked about alternative treatments and overall care for the rest of my otherwise healthy body. The oncologist told me I had been reading too much and that I should leave the treatment plan up to him. We respectfully petitioned for a second opinion in hopes of finding an oncologist and cancer center that would offer a more supportive, integrated and inclusive treatment plan. The oncologist referred us to another center, but we encountered a waiting list.
While trying to determine the correct course, we contacted Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) on March 8. After reading information on the Internet about CTCA and talking with one of their representatives over the phone, we decided to set up an appointment for a consultation at the CTCA hospital in Tulsa. Less than a week later, we made the visit to meet with a team of doctors and other care providers at CTCA.
When we walked through the door of the hospital, we had a sense of a peace and relief. We were warmly greeted, shown around the hospital and given a detailed schedule of our appointments. CTCA staff walked us through every step of the way.
Each doctor and care provider I met with came into a clinic room to speak with us one at a time. We first met with Dr. Altshuler, an intake doctor. We talked about my overall health and medical history. He wanted to learn if I had other medical conditions that could affect my cancer treatment plan. Next I saw Dr. Pollock, my medical oncologist. He evaluated my pathology and radiology reports and confirmed my non-Hodgkin MALT lymphoma diagnosis. Dr. Pollock talked with us about building a treatment plan based on his recommendations and our input, which we felt was very important. We also met with a naturopathic oncology provider, who discussed some of the natural therapies and supplements I could take during my cancer treatment to help ease side effects and maintain energy. Lastly, we met with a dietitian, who offered recommendations for healthy food combinations to keep me nourished and strong.
All of the members of my care team asked us questions and asked for our input. They invited us into the decision-making process for developing my treatment plan. It was a collaborative team effort focused on “my” needs.
While we were certainly pleased at the overall plan CTCA offered, I felt committed to follow through with a scheduled appointment at the other cancer center to which we were initially referred. I wanted to do my due diligence and hear what their physicians had to say. Nevertheless, we did everything we could to try to formulate an integrated plan there and it just didn't happen. We felt they couldn't provide what CTCA offered, so we gladly returned to CTCA in Tulsa to begin treatment.
My treatment at CTCA
The treatment I received at CTCA included chemotherapy and integrative oncology services such as naturopathic medicine, nutrition therapy, acupuncture, mind-body support and chiropractic care. The integrative oncology services helped make my treatment plan unique. Some of the integrative oncology services I received, like chiropractic care, Darlene was able to receive as well.
In addition to integrated care and a care team that provided clear information, there are several reasons why I’m glad we chose CTCA. I had a virtual arsenal of enthusiastic care providers ready to fight and support whatever came my way. I was also able to receive all of my diagnostic testing and treatments in one place. Everything I needed was within the hospital. Also, the scheduling and planning was in great detail. There was no wasted time. My schedule for appointments and care was extremely efficient. And, Darlene and I felt like CTCA did everything possible to reduce the anxiety and stress in our lives. Even when I was back at home and had questions or issues that arose, the care management team was available 24/7 to guide me through logical steps of self-help.
Granted, it was a long, two-year journey. I received multiple chemotherapy treatments, but I made it through as strong and fit as anyone would hope for. I am confident I would not have come out of this as healthy as I am today had we not gone to CTCA for a second opinion.
Recovering from cancer is a powerful experience. It's very difficult to explain, but there's a newness in life. I’m seeing and hearing things much differently. It's been an exciting time too to think about the future—our children, grandchildren and our life together.
Darlene and I are enjoying life. We joined a bowling league and have taken trips we've never done before, from the top of Pikes Peak to deep mountain caves and across zip lines that traverse mountain gorges. We're working on our bucket list together and sharing help and inspiration along the way.
I've had a lot of enjoyment in helping and encouraging others who are fighting cancer. It's wonderful to see someone’s countenance change and see hope in their eyes. And that's what CTCA offers so much of—hope. People at CTCA are enthusiastic and they care. It's all over their faces and their body language. It's very easy to embrace an organization that offers hope to people in a very real and genuine way. It’s inspired me. I feel blessed to be able to speak to others and give them hope and encouragement, and do so in a heartfelt way.