How Cancer Research Saved My Dad’s Life

Wow. Four years already.

It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.

Here I am sitting in a very familiar waiting room right next to a very familiar fish tank. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve sat here while my Dad gets CT scans, watching the clown fish swimming back and forth

Will the lymph nodes light up differently this time? Nah. These days, I always expect good news, but it wasn’t too long ago we didn’t know what to expect…

You see, four years ago my Dad became very ill…so bad that he had to stay home from work. I’ll spare you all of the “fun” details, but the result was he looked like a pale ghost, with zero appetite or energy.

While dozens of tests started to point toward a lymphoma, his lymph node biopsy continued to baffle the local pathologists and labs. It took almost three months of chasing down doctors and labs (totally unacceptable when you’re dealing with someone’s life!) until we got everything over to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), specifically the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Then within days this top notch facility finally nailed things down and handed my Dad a confirmed diagnosis: Stage IV Peripheral T-cell Lymphoma, unspecified.

Basically his cancer was as advanced as it could be (appearing in his blood, lymph nodes, bone marrow and metastasized on his leg and a couple ribs). While an estimated 662,789 individuals are living with or are in remission from lymphoma, the type my Dad had was very rare.

Because so few people have this, there’s not really a standard treatment for this…yet. And with “regular” chemotherapy, the chance of survival is just 20% after 5 years.

(SIDE NOTE: Throughout this year-long odyssey, we quickly learned, when someone’s life is involved, don’t settle for only your local doc’s opinion. Do everything in your power to get several experts to weigh in. Second opinions have literally been LIFE-SAVERS for us multiple times!)

We consulted long and hard with all of our lymphoma specialists (note, I didn’t just say oncologists – we worked hard to get my Dad in front of the most qualified experts possible!). They all agreed, a clinical trial was his best chance of survival. That’s why my Dad decided to be part of research “protocol” run by NIH’s NCI (a world-class, amazing facility that gets patients flying in from all over the place).

At the end of the day, it was a simple decision really. While it was a much more aggressive treatment, with increased side effects and risks, it’s also something they were testing specifically for t-cell lymphomas. It involved 5 days of steady chemotherapy…repeated every 3 weeks over a period of about 4 months. A whopping 650 hours of treatment!

Of course over all those months, Mom, Dad and I mixed in theater, movies, trips, funny wigs and as much “life” as we could throughout. Don’t let your cancer totally pause your life — YOU are still in charge!

And thanks to the wonders of modern science, an excellent medical team, a great research protocol and a lot of prayers, my Dad beat the lymphoma in 2008!

The problem is, there were 75,190 new lymphoma cases in 2011 according to the American Cancer Society, and the National Cancer Institute estimates this year, there will be 1,638,910 Americans newly diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately survival rates have increased as detection *and* treatment methods have improved, but we’ve still got a long way to go. In fact, blood cancers are the #3 cancer killer in North America after respiratory and digestive cancers.

Even if you haven’t had to deal with a blood cancer, chances are you or a loved one have been touched by some form of cancer, so you know first-hand how emotional and scary this journey is for an entire family.

Unfortunately, every seven minutes, in the United States alone, someone is newly diagnosed with lymphoma. And just about every 25 minutes, someone dies from lymphoma. Which means in the time it took you to read this post, there’s a new blood cancer case, and someone is saying goodbye to their loved ones. These numbers ARE improving little by little…but only with more research!

By supporting research (either with time, money or by participating in a trial), you improve quality of life and become part of the eventual cure. Heck, my Dad is now a part of the “solution” for cancer – he helped researchers learn more about this crazy disease. And some day down the road when they cure it, he’ll have played his part in that. You go, Dad!

So back to the NIH waiting room adventure from earlier…what did this month’s CT scan and blood work eventually show a few hours later? ALL CLEAR! We just hit the 4-year lymphoma-free mark! Thank God!

Bottom line, as we wrap up this “Blood Cancer Awareness Month” I want to stress how important it is to continually support cancer research. It’s truly the ONLY way we’ll find a cure. Plug into organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, go to their special events like “Light the Night“, sign up for their newsletters, use their free resources and make a donation or two.

The fact is, this research WORKS. My family stands here as LIVING proof.

To a world without cancer,
Chris Zavadowski

P.S. Did you know that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society helped fund the research that developed chemotherapy? In fact, nearly half of the new cancer drugs developed since 2000 were for blood cancer therapies.

Even more exciting is the fact that those drugs are now showing significant promise in breast, ovarian, lung, brain, skin, prostate and many more forms of cancer. Plus they are now used for treatment in Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and even to help prevent rejection after organ transplantation. That’s a lot of lives saved with fundraising dollars!

If you feel like saving a life, please visit our special “Light the Night” fundraising page and make a donation today: (every amount, NO matter the size, makes a difference!)

And since this is a “business” blog, I’ll do something something special for your business, too. As you’ll see on my fundraising page above, I’ve got a big goal to raise $30,000 by the end of 2012…

So for everyone who donates just $100 or more (which of course is tax-deductible), I’ll flat-out give you a FREE copy of Dan Kennedy’s “Copywriting Clinic” course which normally sells for $129.

When you master the art-and-science of writing powerful direct-response copy for sales letters, emails, websites, postcards, brochures, catalogs, and ads, you can literally write any size paycheck you wish. Being able to create “salesmanship in print” that works multiplies you 100, 1,000, 10,000 times over. It is one of the highest-paid activities that I know of.

At this workshop, Dan covered 97 specific tricks-of-the-trade to creating copy that will reach out and suck money right into your bank account like an out-of-control vacuum cleaner.  Each one is hard-learned, valuable, powerful and important. What’s each one worth? Ten bucks? That’d make this a $1,000.00 program.

But you’ll get this entire downloadable audio program and notes…for just a $100 tax-deductible donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by December 31, 2012.  Just click here to make your donation and save a life!



  1. Great post, Chris. I had no idea what lymphoma was until you explained it. I’m glad your dad is doing better. I wish both of you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013 and beyond. All the best.

    Chuck Holmes

  2. Hi Chuck,

    Thanks for the kind words — glad I could help raise awareness, too!

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

    Chris 🙂

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