From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders

June 20, 2022

John Boys, an industrial electrician approaching 60, had no plans to go to the doctor until his employer offered incentives for getting a physical during the spring of 2019. A casual discussion about a knot he had in his abdomen led to a cancer diagnosis and a life-saving survivorship journey with the cancer experts at OHC.

“I assumed the knot in my abdomen was a hiatal hernia,” said John. “The doctor performing my physical exam ordered a CT scan and called me the next day at work with the results. I had cancer throughout my entire lymph system, liver, spleen, pelvis, femur, and spine.”

John and his wife of 40 years, Terry, immediately contacted OHC advanced practice provider Brooke Gillespie, MSN, APRN. Brooke had played sports with both of their daughters. Acting quickly, Brooke ordered a PET scan, an imaging test of the body’s organs and tissues, for the next morning. Findings necessitated a biopsy that revealed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Brooke referred John to her colleague, noted medical oncologist and hematologist D. Randolph “Randy” Drosick, MD.

“John had stage four lymphoma,” said Dr. Drosick. “I prescribed R-CHOP, a combination of five drugs, including chemotherapy, that work together to target and kill cancer cells.”

“Dr. Drosick is the most positive doctor,” said John. “He related to me and made me feel like he was going to take care of me.”

Following three rounds of therapy, John had a clear PET scan. But, his relief was short-lived. That fall, he began to feel weak and tired. A scan revealed that the cancer had recurred and John had fluid in his abdomen. Dr. Drosick referred John to his colleague James H. Essell, MD, an OHC medical oncologist, hematologist, cellular therapy specialist, and leading authority on blood and marrow stem cell transplants. John’s wife, who had a leadership role in a local healthcare system and a lot of oncology experience, told her beloved husband that Dr. Essell was one of the best.

After performing a bone marrow biopsy on John, Dr. Essell recommended that he have an autologous stem cell transplant, or a transplant using John’s own stem cells. On February 11, 2020, John received the transplant and stayed in the hospital for a few weeks to recover. Transplant patients are severely immunocompromised and require close monitoring.

The stem cell transplant involves the use of high doses of chemotherapy. “This dose of chemotherapy is designed to overcome resistance and kill the cancer cells that survived the original chemotherapy,” said Dr. Essell. “It destroys the bone marrow. The stem cells are infused after the chemotherapy to regenerate the bone marrow.”

After recovering, John returned to work that May. “I’m a walking miracle,” said John. “OHC saved my life. You come to them at your lowest stage of life and they say, ‘we’re going to take care of you.’ OHC’s on the forefront of innovation and everyone always had concern for me.”

John, who retired a little over a year ago, admits that he suffers from some memory issues and is not quite as strong as he used to be, but it hasn’t stopped him from making plans. He is focused on spending more time with his six grandchildren. Terry, who John refers to as his rock, is preparing for retirement. The couple enjoys travel and hopes to purchase a camper to visit national parks. They have an Alaskan cruise and rail trip later this summer.

June is National Cancer Survivor Month. OHC celebrates all survivors, supports those undergoing cancer treatment, and honors those who valiantly battled the disease and are no longer with us. Our cancer experts strongly recommend annual physicals and remind adults to be mindful of cancer screening recommendations, which can be found here: https://ohcare.com/service/cancer-screenings/. In most cases, the earlier cancer is discovered the better the outcomes. To schedule an appointment with an OHC cancer doctor or request a second opinion, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit ohcare.com.

Top picture: John and Terry Boys

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