We are proud to share Mike Mottola‘s journey with cancer today on the Raveis blog. Mike is one of our agents in Andover, MA and was kind enough to write his story in between rounds of golf, his favorite sport. Its actually how his story begins, as when he was diagnosed in 2014, he was actually in the middle of a great round of golf. Mike continues below.
“When I was diagnosed in 2014, I was on the course playing one of my best rounds of golf. I was one or two over and I felt a tightness in my back, which felt like any other sore back, maybe I had swung wrong but I thought it would go away. I let it fester for a bit, but it kept getting worse. At the local hospitals, they told me I might have mono, and the soreness could be a reaction to that.
In February of 2014, I met with a great couple doctors in Boston, MA who diagnosed me with diffuse large b cell lymphoma and it was also CNS, in my central nervous system. The doctors set me up with an aggressive round of chemo treatment which slowly began shutting down the usage of my limbs. My left leg and left foot became immobile and my entire right arm was immobile. What drove me was when my doctor said, “We are going to get you back on the golf course.” Golf has been something I’ve loved since I was five years old and it motivated me to get better.
They started hammering me with some aggressive forms of chemo and it proved results, but my own internal bacteria started to attack itself and attack me. I developed a fever and had to be put into a coma for seven days. Throughout those first two to three days, the doctors became did everything they could but became less confident and told my parents they should begin to try to say goodbye to me. So, my parents, ever confident, did some funny things. They took selfies with me, laughing and smiling because they knew I would wake up. My mom said, “You can’t read him his last rights because he’s just tired. He’s been through a long fight and he’ll be waking up soon.” After a day, I got a little better, and the day after that, a little better. A couple days later, I pulled the breathing tubes off and woke up. The first thing I asked was, “Who won the British Open?” After a few laughs, I realized my motivation for golf was still there.
The cancer wasn’t gone though, so I entered rehab and learned to walk again. During that time, I also got put through a stem-cell transplant session. For my December birthday, Christmas and New Year’s, I was in the hospital recovering. In the New Year, I was in two fantasy football leagues and if there is one thing about hospitals, it’s that their Wi-Fi isn’t the greatest! It just reaffirmed to me that I was going to continue to live a normal life, doing the things I loved before I had cancer.
One of the ironic things about a stem-cell transplant recovery is you can’t eat any fresh foods. I was living off of frozen pizza, Hot Pockets, and just about everything a 24-year old would love. When I came out, I weighed less than when I came in, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but it was the best diet I’ve ever been on.
On January 11th, I came home to my parent’s house to recover. It was a very slow start; I had a cane and a walker and it was my time to think about what was next in my future. In discussing with my doctors, we decided to start me on a new clinical trial. I was the first in it, “Patient Zero,” so to speak, and that trial is why I’m here today. Thanks to people that supported cancer research, that is why I’m standing here today. So many people don’t understand the treatment options that are being worked on currently. They think it’s all chemotherapy and radiation. The reason I am still here today is an immunotherapy trial that reprogrammed my own cells to search and destroy cancer cells. It was a clinical trial 100% funded by charitable contributions.
The Memorial Day after my recovery, I went out golfing with my cousin, Jameson, and on the 9th hole on Merrimack Golf Course, I had my seventh hole-in-one.
Thank you to all of those who funded that clinical trial, to Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. I am going to continue to do my best to give back to that community in any way that I can.”
Thanks to Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, cancer patients like Mike can take part in clinical trials. Trial participants receive either the standard of care—what scientists consider the most effective known treatment available—or the new medication or procedure under study. Cancer trial participants have access to the latest drugs, procedures, and other types of treatment. To be able to garner funds for these trials, people like us can help support Damon Runyon and the William Raveis Charitable fund by signing up for the Raveis Ride + Walk. Sign up here for the event October, 1st, 2017 in Norwalk, CT.