Feeling Well, Giving Back
For more than 20 years, Midge Lipkin has been living with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), a cancer of a type of white blood cells that also took the lives of her father and several cousins. Since 2004, she has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. When the chemotherapy failed to improve her blood counts, her doctor suggested she join a clinical trial being conducted by John Byrd, MD, at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
At first Midge did not qualify for Dr. Byrd’s trial for a drug known as PCI-32765 because she did not weigh enough. Dr. Byrd was able to enroll her in another study while the drug company pursued permission to change the PCI trial criteria. Last July, Midge was able to start the PCI trial. She now takes three pills once a day and travels from her homes in Boston or Florida to Columbus once a month to evaluate her health.
“I’m feeling great,” says Midge, who is now 76 years old. “I have more energy and better color. I’m also able to resume my active life of golf, working as an independent school placement counselor and enjoying time with my three children and seven grandchildren.”
When Dr. Byrd mentioned that he was pursuing additional funding for his work, Midge jumped right in. “About 15 years ago, my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer and a friend and I were able to raise $1.5 million for prostate cancer research. So, I’m no stranger to fundraising,” comments Midge.
Earlier this year, Midge launched a campaign that benefits a joint research project Dr. Byrd is conducting with DanaFarber researcher Jennifer Brown, MD . Midge reached out to friends, family, colleagues, and friends of friends. She mailed an invitation to a “non-event event” that included the details of her story, CLL , the research progress being made and an appeal for donations. Recipients were able to donate from the comfort of their own home at a level they felt comfortable with. In three months, more than 200 individuals have donated and she’s raised more than $70,000. Now she’s hoping to expand that appeal outside of her own network and encourages others, especially those in Ohio and the Columbus area, to consider a donation.
She’s also self-publishing a cookbook of family recipes that will be available for purchase at Hope’s Boutique, with all proceeds going to the research fund.
“Dr. Byrd is such an amazing man. Not just the fact that he’s doing wonders with this drug, but because he’s a wonderful, compassionate, caring individual,” says Midge. “He’s so good to his patients, I just want to do what I can to help and want to encourage others to do the same.”