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GRIN & BEAT IT ACTIVE LIFESTYLE HELPS COLUMBIA MAN FIGHT CANCER WITH A POSITIVE ATTITUDE BY JAC O B LU E C K E Phil Griggs likes to do a simple workout routine — lift weights one day, run three miles the next. It’s a basic formula that, at 55, has kept him strong, healthy and happy in his life as well as his work as a busy sales manager. But earlier this year, the workouts suddenly became harder to complete. One day, as Phil ran alongside his daughter, he was finding it very difficult just to keep up. “A little over halfway, I had to take a break,” he says. “Then toward the end, with just three-tenths of a mile left, I just had to quit.” It was very unusual for Phil to get so exhausted during his runs. He thought maybe it was just a fluke; perhaps he would feel better the next time out. But two days later, he did even worse. He couldn’t even run two miles. Concerned, he decided to see his family doctor, Lyndell Scoles, MD. After some blood work and an abdominal CT scan, Phil received a preliminary diagnosis — lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. “I’ve been healthy all my life and very active,” Phil says. “I’m one of those people who says, ‘Cancer, that’s not me, I’ll never get that. That’s somebody else.’ So it was really a major shock.” Phil was referred to Missouri Cancer Associates, the physician practice affiliated with the Stewart Cancer Center at Boone Hospital. There, Michael Trendle, MD, confirmed that Phil had cancer.
Boone Hospital Center
Phil’s specific diagnosis was mantle cell lymphoma. There are many varieties of lymphoma, which are generally broken down into two subgroups — Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma — depending on what cells the cancer is impacting. Phil’s mantle cell lymphoma is a non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Dr. Trendle discovered it had already attacked several lymph nodes in Phil’s abdomen, signaling that it was a fastspreading variety. Dr. Trendle says Phil’s type of cancer accounts for 7 percent of all non-Hodgkin’s cases. Statistics show that out of a million
have cancer and you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Yet the outlook was far from hopeless. While Phil’s lymphoma was aggressive and spreading quickly, Dr. Trendle knew that this cancer also retreats when faced with chemotherapy. “This is a potentially curable form of lymphoma,” Dr. Trendle says. “The chances of chemo working and putting it in complete remission are 70 to 80 percent.” Even more, with Phil’s good physical condition, he would likely be a strong candidate for having a stem cell transplant, which would lessen the
“I’M ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO SAYS, ‘CANCER, THAT’S NOT ME, I’LL NEVER GET THAT.’” people, between four and eight patients will receive this diagnosis each year. Dr. Trendle also found the reason for Phil’s fatigue. With the cancer invasion, Phil’s immune system had begun destroying his own red blood cells, a problem called hemolytic anemia. While this bad news was hard to hear, it was just as difficult for Phil and his wife to then share the diagnosis with their three children. “That was a tough day,” Phil says. “I think that’s the toughest thing in the world to tell your kids that you
likelihood that the cancer would come back and increase the chance of a cure. Before long, Phil was at the Stewart Cancer Center for the first of four cycles of chemotherapy. Phil would spend about 10 days in the hospital for each session. He quickly became acclimated to the Stewart Cancer Center facility and staff. “The whole hospital experience, I couldn’t ask for any better care, any better support,” he says. “I’ve had better service here than I’ve ever seen in my life.” Despite being in the hospital, Phil was determined that his life should