August 13, 2019
Bryan Wilson is a career law enforcement officer who served with the Missouri Highway Patrol for 27 years. So when he developed a form of cancer known as follicular lymphoma, he decided to call in reinforcements.
Wilson and his family turned to The University of Kansas Cancer Center for treatment. Throughout his treatment, Bryan says he experienced an exceptional level of care that was also personal.
“They treat you like family,” says Bryan, of Plattsburg, Missouri. “You’re on a first name basis with everybody, and they all show you that they care about you as a patient.”
It’s the kind of support that has aided Bryan, 59, in a tough battle. Follicular lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It develops when the body makes abnormal B lymphocytes, creating lymphoma cells. B lymphocytes are white blood cells that normally fight infection, but in this case, the abnormal lymphoma cells build up in lymph nodes.
Bryan’s fight has played out on multiple fronts. In addition to battling follicular lymphoma, he also has type II diabetes, which means his pancreas produces some insulin, but not enough. That’s why he appreciates that his medical team also keeps a close eye on his diabetes.
“Clinical trials are customized to whatever issues you have going on and the staff monitors it all for you,” explains Bryan.
The path to clinical trials
Bryan’s early chemotherapy achieved 2 periods of remission lasting about 1 year each. In 2013, the fight advanced to the next phase when Bryan had a bone marrow stem cell transplant. He served as his own donor, and that gave him another year of remission.
When that remission ended, Bryan and his medical team decided it was time to consider a clinical trial.
“It’s been fantastic,” he says. “We were able to keep the cancer from getting any worse for a year. Then it started growing again, so I moved into a second trial with different medication. I’ve had 2 scans since we started and we’re well within the margin of success.”
You’re not only finding solutions that could benefit you, but also many other people. –Bryan WilsonClinical trials participant
Part of the family
Bryan says by participating in clinical trials he has the opportunity to “receive new targeted therapies that aren’t widely used yet and aren’t available in any other way.”
He receives treatment at the University of Kansas Clinical Research Center, which is dedicated to early-phase clinical trials that offer hope to people who may have exhausted treatment options.
“It really does have a family feel,” Bryan says of the research center. “Going through this with an excellent standard of care and the staff here – that makes all the difference.”
Raymond P. Perez, MD, Wilson’s oncologist, who is actively involved in clinical trials research, is equally enthusiastic about Bryan’s progress.
“Bryan has been an outstanding patient and a joy to work with,” says Dr. Perez. “He constantly expresses appreciation for the care we provide, and we are extremely gratified that these clinical trials have been beneficial to him.”
True to character, Bryan adds that a key reason he participates in the trials is because he would like to make a difference in the lives of others.
“You’re not only finding solutions that could benefit you, but also many other people,” he says. “The people here constantly remind you of that, and they make you feel really good about what you’re doing.”
As with all treatments, individual patient results vary. It is important to discuss your treatment options with your healthcare provider.