Chris Lyons - Patient Story

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"The doctors at Fox Chase really know what they are doing."

— Chris Lyons

In June 2004, I felt like I was on the top of the world. I had just graduated from Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia, where I was active in student government, and was starting college that fall at Temple University. I had been healthy throughout high school after my kidney transplant in 1999, just a few days before I turned 13. My body had fully accepted my mom’s kidney.

The summer after my high school graduation, however, my health began to deteriorate. The diagnosis was Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and my parents took me to a pediatric hospital in Philadelphia. I started chemotherapy and college the same week. Although the treatment seemed successful, my parents thought that we should seek a second opinion regarding my options for therapy at Fox Chase. My parents really liked the doctors at Fox Chase, but we decided to stay where we were.

We changed our minds, however, when my doctors found something suspicious on my PET scan in January 2006. It was then that we decided switch to Fox Chase. Doctors at Fox Chase performed surgery to remove my spleen, and then I had radiation therapy during the summer, which helped avoid the need for a bone marrow transplant. I had another round of radiation therapy the following fall. My parents were confident with the treatment plan.

Every time we thought that my treatment was over, there would be another area of recurrence. Abnormalities developed on my tests by the summer of 2008.  I waited six weeks and then had another test, which showed that the spot had disappeared. After several more months and several routine tests, the spot appeared in the same location as it had the previous summer. My doctor was curious about what could be going on because the spot had gone away on its own, which is not typical for lymphoma.

A biopsy revealed that the lymphoma had returned. My doctors believed that the cancer was linked to treatment with immunosuppressant medication. My medical oncologist began treating me with Rituxan, a drug typically used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and I completed that therapy in April 2009. He treated me off and on in 2011, and I responded well to Rituxan and am now in remission. Even with cancer behind me, he continued to track my progress through periodic checkups.

Facing cancer at such a young age can be a terrifying thing, but it didn’t stop me. I graduated on time and with honors from Temple University in 2008, and started my first real job the following year. I can say with confidence that the doctors at Fox Chase really know what they are doing, and they knew how to get me through that roadblock in my life.

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