12:12 2016 Meet Christopher


December 11, 2016

Meet Christopher.
I am a physicist working on my Ph.D. degree in Biophysics at the University of Texas at Dallas.  My specialization is studying Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and how its use can be enhanced to detect and diagnose different types of cancer cells.
Ironically, in addition to being a full-time cancer researcher, I am a full-time cancer patient.  Currently I am experiencing my second recurrence of Ewing’s sarcoma at the age of 28.  Unlike the chemo infusions of my first two cancer experiences, this time I am taking chemotherapy in pill form.  This allows me to work with cancer and fight cancer at the same time.
I was first diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, subset Askin’s tumor or PNET, at the age of 17, halfway through my junior year of high school.  The cancer cells were in my ribs.  I underwent a year of inpatient chemotherapy at Cook Children’s Hospital, Fort Worth, TX, and had tumor resection surgery to remove two ribs on Mother’s Day weekend in 2005.  Due to a strict infection control protocol, I received schooling at home for the remainder of high school, graduated with honors with my class in 2006, and enrolled in college.  My doctors wanted me to stay close to home and hospital for the first couple years after my cancer went into remission, so I attended Midwestern State University in my hometown of Wichita Falls, TX.  In spite of severe chemo after-effects, I graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree with double majors in physics and mathematics.
That fall I enrolled at the University of Texas at Dallas to pursue my master’s and doctoral degrees in physics.  During the last semester of my master’s degree – after eight years in remission – the cancer recurred and metastasized to my lung.  This time the chemotherapy was all outpatient, but so extensive and with such strong side effects that I had to take a year of medical leave from school.  The tumor in my lung was removed in July 2013, and I completed the year of chemotherapy afterward.
Now I am working on my Ph.D. in biophysics, and – after two and a half years in remission – the cancer has recently returned for the third time.  This time the Ewing’s has metastasized to the back of my lung.  My latest CT scan shows that the tumor is incrementally shrinking in response to the chemo pills and should be ready for resection in January.
Will I fight Ewing’s sarcoma for the rest of my life?  Probably.  It is essential that new treatments and therapies are developed to deal with this cancer and with its after-effects and long-term side effects.  Please give to the 12/12 campaign this month at 1 Million 4 Anna to allow Ewing’s survivors like me a chance to hold onto hope and continue to live.    
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