Innovative Cancer Treatments Help Patients Reach Milestones
It was his son’s fifth birthday; a time for celebration. Instead, all Tim Meesey could think about was the cancer diagnosis he had received. It was July 24, 2000, and Tim had just gotten the news that he had stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cancer was already in his bone marrow and the prognosis for the father of three wasn’t especially good.
Tim quickly began treatment in the Dallas area, but by 2002 his bone marrow was more than 50 percent cancerous. He was made aware of a clinical trial for Bexxar®, an antibody that was showing promise in non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment ― although few cancer centers locally were approved to administer the specialized therapy. The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas Infusion Center at Arlington Cancer Center, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice, was one of the pioneering centers in Dallas/Fort Worth to offer the clinical trial.
At Arlington Cancer Center, Tim met staff physicians, Drs. John Adams and Karel Dicke. Both are long-term hematologists and medical oncologists who worked closely with him to develop a unique treatment plan for his unique cancer. Dr. Adams began treatment by injecting the radioactive Bexxar into Tim’s blood to bring targeted radiation directly to the lymphoma cells. The treatment was not completely effective so he was started on chemotherapy followed by the collection and storage of his own blood-forming stem cells. The stem cells were then infused into his blood after the high doses of chemotherapy. This treatment process brought Tim into remission.
Dr. Dicke was one of the pioneers in the United States to use high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell support in the treatment of lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia. Initially, these treatments were done in the hospital but Dr. Dicke developed a program to be done on an outpatient basis. Tim tolerated the program well without hospitalization, putting up a good fight because he knew he had a team of physicians on the staff and nurses in his corner who were passionate about their patients’ care. Tim’s input was always encouraged and the team of physicians and nurses was always hopeful.
“Most doctors are either brilliant or caring, very few are both,” Tim said. “Dr. Dicke is not only the most intelligent person I have ever met, he’s also the most humble and compassionate. Based on my prognosis when I arrived at Arlington Cancer Center, I should not have celebrated my 48th birthday ― let alone the 58th birthday I just enjoyed.”
Tim has reached a number of major milestones throughout his years of treatment, including graduations and anniversaries, and he looks upon each at as a true blessing. He still visits the center regularly to receive Gamunex® immunoglobulin therapy and help provide support to new patients.
“From my very first day at Arlington Cancer Center everyone there, whether a receptionist, technician, nurse or radiologist, really seemed to care about my well-being,” Tim added. “The best support group I could ever find has been here. I try to pass along the hope by talking with other patients and their caregivers, as others have done for me.”
Physicians employed by Texas Health Physicians Group practice independently and are not employees of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.