Michael Rose was diagnosed with stage 4 Diffuse large B–cell lymphoma (DLBCL), an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, in 2008. “It’s the ultimate scare,” he said. After treatment with a B cell-smiting immunotherapy called rituximab (Rituxan®), in combination with chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, Michael is cancer-free. The 46-year-old financier says his experience with the disease led to “an awakening”: not only did it inspire him to prioritize his relationship with his wife and family, it also inspired a thirst for adventure.
TheAnswertoCancer (TheA2C) spoke with Michael about his battle with cancer, as well as his new daredevil hobbies.
I found out in February of 2008 that I had lymphoma. I started feeling not quite normal in November 2007. I knew something was pretty wrong because of the tiredness I was feeling and the fact that I was losing weight pretty rapidly. I went in to the doctor in December 2007, and they started running various tests to try to determine what this might be. There was a 30- to 45-day waiting period, and I told the doctor to just call me with the diagnosis, because my preference was just to know as soon as possible. I was actually sitting at work when I found out, which was a little odd. Of course, I called my wife immediately, and then my boss, who knew something was not right either. I was not looking well or feeling well at all.
Luckily, for this particular type of cancer there was a pretty standard treatment called R-CHOP—Rituxan is the “R” and then the other letters stand for four other chemotherapy drugs. We talked about doing six rounds of R-CHOP chemotherapy and then, after three or four treatments, I would get a PET scan to see if it had slowed down or looked like it was heading towards remission.
They give you the treatments every three weeks with this type of lymphoma, and between the first and second treatment, it was pretty rough. I went through a typical response to intensive chemotherapy initially and felt tired, sick, a lot of other physical things. By the time I started getting into the second and third rounds, I think the treatment was starting to work on the cancer, and I actually started to feel quite a bit better. I actually returned to work after the fourth treatment. So I did start to progressively feel better and feel less of the side effects related to chemotherapy drugs and Rituxan.
Always be focused on where you're going to get to, and you'll get there. The end goal for me was getting back to a normal life, and then trying to check out some things that I hadn't done before. Some of the things that we've done over the last four years, I think, “Wow, I may have never even considered doing some of those had I not been through all of this.”
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*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.
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