Cancer has been part of life for Randall Himes for nearly two decades but he doesn’t let it influence the way he lives, saying: “It has been an exciting journey. I haven’t worried the least about the surgeries or cancer. My attitude has always been: ‘OK, what are we going to do about it?’ And then we tackle what is in front of us,” says the now 87-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio.
Himes was originally diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer in January 1998. The surgery revealed a slow-growing cancer of unknown origin, which doctors began monitoring routinely with blood work and imaging tests. In 2009, he was treated successfully for kidney cancer.
“I continued to live a happy, active life – I didn’t pay attention to the cancer except to do what I had to do to keep it under control,” says Himes.
Then in 2011 a bone marrow biopsy confirmed chronic lymphocytic leukemia that required treatment. His local oncologist referred him to John Byrd, MD, at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) for possible inclusion in a clinical trial.
His cancer was put into remission temporarily with the monoclonal antibody drug ofatumumab but the effect did not last. That is when Dr. Byrd suggested Himes begin treatment on a clinical trial for a new oral therapy called acalabrutinib, a second-generation Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, a newer class of drugs shown to improve the survival of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). All preclinical research and the first phase I study of the drug was completed by a team of researchers led by Byrd at the OSUCCC – James.
“Taking the pill was much easier than the chemotherapy drugs. I had no side effects – and driving to Columbus every six months was a small inconvenience for keeping my cancer under control,” Himes recalls.
Now he is focused on doing what he always has – living life to the fullest. He still enjoys woodworking, reading and time with his wife, children and grandchildren.