When you are diagnosed with cancer, “all these things come through your mind like a checklist,” says Tim Brown. “You’re not sure what events you’ll get to go to.”
Tim Brown was attending his yearly physical ten years ago, when his doctor noticed that his white blood cell count was high. Thinking this might be an indicator of a virus, the doctor told Tim to return in six months for another blood test. Half a year later, the doctor once again found high levels of white blood cells and sent him to take a fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) blood test.
One morning, soon after the FISH test, Tim’s phone rang while he was at work at his commercial printing and packaging company. It was the doctor’s office, telling him to see a hematologist. When given almost no other information, Tim insisted on knowing why he was being sent to a hematologist. He was told it was because he had Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).
“I can’t tell you how many countless nights you wake up at 2:00 in the morning and you wonder what’s going to happen. How much time do I have? What’s going to go on?” said Tim. “I want to be able to walk my daughter down the aisle”
Tim was recommended to a physician in Dayton. Tim’s friends, however, knew someone with CLL who was being treated by John Byrd, MD, of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). Tim’s friends strongly encouraged him to look into treatment with Dr. Byrd as they were very pleased with the care they had received from him.
After doing some research and finding that Dr. Byrd was one of the leading physicians treating and researching CLL, Tim scheduled an appointment at the James. Immediately, Tim felt like he “had all the confidence in the world with Dr. Byrd.”
Dr. Byrd ran tests and provided his own encouraging diagnosis: all indicators were very positive and Tim would only have to come in twice a year so that the doctor could monitor the disease.
Three years later, Tim’s hemoglobin started dropping for no apparent reason. He no longer had a mild case of CLL; he was now experiencing the disease in its entirety. Tim started a chemotherapy regimen, receiving chemo five days in a row, waiting three weeks, and then repeating this cycle for six months.
Three months after completing his final chemotherapy session, Tim returned to the OSUCCC – James, where Dr. Byrd told him his blood counts were perfect and he would now be considered in remission.
Since his treatment, Tim no longer worried about the events he would miss. He got to see his son get married and proudly walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. He was also there when both of his grandsons were born. “I have this feeling that I might not be here today if I hadn’t found [Dr. Byrd],” said Tim.