Conditions

How Bob Survived Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

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Bob, non-Hodgkin Lymphoma survivor

Bob Kaufman wasn’t used to a slow-paced life. Once a producer on the nationally televised CBS: This Morning, he’s now the chief communications officer for the state of Texas Department of Transportation. He also ran marathons, played lacrosse, golf and more.

“Physical fitness is in my DNA,” he says.

But in 2009, he started to struggle to keep pace. That’s when he was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. After chemo treatments, the non-Hodgkin Lymphoma returned. His doctors determined he needed a more aggressive treatment plan: a stem-cell transplant.

“When I was going through the discovery process, I asked the doctor, ‘What makes me such a good candidate for a stem-cell transplant? This seems high-risk, but high-reward.’”

But the docs determined the transplant was a low-risk, high-reward treatment, given his fitness level and relative youth. He was 48 at the time of his diagnosis. With the support of his wife, Lisa, and two kids, he decided to go ahead with it.

“When I really needed to follow doctor’s orders and Lisa was helping take care of me, it allowed her to update but also to do what we needed to do—focus on ourselves—to get better.”

And he kept everyone informed through his CaringBridge website.

“We use CaringBridge as a one-stop shop to communicate with family and friends without being tied down to responding to phone calls. When I really needed to follow doctor’s orders and Lisa was helping take care of me, it allowed her to update but also to do what we needed to do—focus on ourselves—to get better.”

A Journey Recorded

There was also an unintended benefit: After Bob’s recovery from the stem-cell transplant, he had a record of his thoughts, emotions and treatments right at his fingertips to help him put his book, Replenished, together.

“The vehicle that is CaringBridge is a remarkable advancement in communication. The mission is excellent, and certainly proven to be a great vision on the part of the people who founded it. I’m grateful to it.”

In fact, as Bob began weaving together his story, which mixes medical science with emotional and psychological well-being and motivational spirituality, he decided to use some of his CaringBridge passages verbatim. His CaringBridge Journal entries most accurately captured his feelings—to make it more concrete for others looking to treat their blood cancer with a stem-cell transplant.

What every cancer fighter hopes for, but is tentative to count on, is a four-letter word: Cure.

What every cancer fighter hopes for, but is tentative to count on, is a four-letter word: Cure. Five years after his transplant, the Austin American-Statesman published a profile story about his treatment and survival. In it, Bob’s doctor, Dr. Issa Khouri, told the reporter he felt it was “very likely” Bob was cured of his non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

“I’d never heard him say that until I read that,” Bob says.

Life After Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Bob focused on one thing during his fight with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: Getting back to a normal life. And, he says, for the most part, his life is back to normal.

“One of the great things I learned in recovery from a friend of mine is the saying, ‘Everyday is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.’”

“I look at everyday with the greatest amount of hope and opportunity because I was given this second chance.”

“I look at everyday with the greatest amount of hope and opportunity because I was given this second chance. I had a hell of a lot of luck on my side. There should be no discount in the importance of being lucky,” he adds.

These days, what brings Bob fulfillment is getting his book, Replenished, into the hands of people who need it most, to provide his story as a means of hope and encouragement in a physically and emotionally fraught time.

“The best is when someone contacts me and says, ‘I read your book and it feels like you wrote my story,’” he says.

So, he says, dwelling on the past is something he just doesn’t have time for. He’s pouring his time into supporting current patients with his book, with the added bonus of perspective now that he’s come through to the other side, six years later.

“At the time, cancer is a very daunting experience to go through, but you cannot let something like cancer define your life. You have to get on the best way you can. I have kids to raise, I have a big job for the citizens in the state of Texas, I have to look toward the future.”

Tell Us Your Story

Are you going through treatment for non-Hodgkin Lymphoma or another disease that may require a stem-cell transplant? Have you experienced stem-cell transplant recovery? Please share your story and tips for coping in the comments. Or, read Stephanie’s story of her Hodgkin’s Lymphoma journey.

Comments (25)

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Joanne Lohan Sep 10, 2016 11:02am
My husband is battling stage IV non hodgkins lymphoma , has not responded to ALOT of Chemo in 6 months , and now is in an immune therapy trial at DFCI in Boston ... His masses , one on his L3 of his spine and one in his mediastinum , are 10-12cm in size . I was curious as to the size of your tumors and the location ? He's also receiving palliative radiation to his back mass now because it's leaning on nerves , and making him suffer thru incredible nerve pain , it runs down his left leg , making mobility difficult , using a cane . He's been thru so much in 8.5 months ... Biopsies , thoracentsesis x2 , ct scans and MRI's , and Per scans galore , he went thru 8 inpatient admissions for around the clock chemo x5 days each ... Blood transfusion , platelet transfusion ... Blood clots ,etc . Never got to stem cell transplant because he didn't respond to the regimen ... Now the trial is a " sure , why not give it a shot " ... He's 58 yrs old , three children , 20 , 17 , and 13 .. Two sons and a daughter . We believe in the power of prayer and meditation , healthy diet , lots of allaline water , vitamins , and conventional medicine . He's been so brave , never complains , and looks to each day as a gift . That's his story :/ ... Please pray for his strength and his peace, along with a miracle . I would like to read a copy of your book , and share it w him ...maybe then he wouldn't feel so alone . It may inspire Hope . Thank you for sharing your story of survival .ay you stay cancer free , and do much good for others ... God Bless you and your family 💕
Bob Kaufman Aug 13, 2016 11:54am
I want to thank each of you for your comments, encouragement and sharing of your stories. I also want to thank Katie Dohman for sharing my story through CaringBridge (what a wonderful mission). I do feel very blessed and see every day as a gift. One of the lines I share in my book goes like this, 'everyday is a gift; that's why they call it the present.' If you know anyone who might benefit from this story, please have them visit www.replenishedbook.com. Thank you.
Jennifer Wallace Aug 03, 2016 2:56pm
Inspiring! I lost both my Dad and my Grandmother to Brain Cancer! Thanks for sharing your story. Jennifer Wallace~ TIP Lady, MI
Suzanne Smith Jul 29, 2016 1:21pm
Thank God they made stem cell transplants legal.. Best of luck to you and your family , God bless
Karen Sieg Jul 27, 2016 6:06pm
Hope and pray all is going well now. If we do what we are to do when we do get something and take it as a test we will go forward. God willing
Linda Bischoff Jul 27, 2016 5:25pm
Wow I'm so so happy for you and your family!! My brother was diagnosed also went thru Chemo treatments and I'm so glad to say he is cancer free!! Thank you for sharing your story. It's so hard ❤️
Barb Brooke Jul 27, 2016 2:46pm
What a wonderfully encouraging post ..... God bless you Bob ....
DIane Hanson Jul 27, 2016 2:38am
I love reading stories on this site. You are obviously an angel, and God has blessed you, and I pray that he does the same for everyone that needs him to do so. Very touching story you tell here, and very thoughtful of you to share it with so many who need encouragement. Caring Bridge is a wonderful site as I have been following someone very dear who is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He is doing very well, but has good days and bad days. So nice to be able to give him words of encouragement, and follow with him through his painful journey of fighting and trying to overcome the disease that he had no idea that he had. It is labeled the "Silent Killer." Thank you Caring Bridge, and thank you Bob! God Bless you and your family and thank you for sharing your story!
Rosemary Fields Jul 26, 2016 4:57pm
God has truly touched your life and healed you. To God be the glory, great things He hath done!
Kathy Jul 26, 2016 12:27pm
You were so blessed that God was on your side!
Joyce Worley Jul 26, 2016 10:45am
I was so happy to read your uplifting story of survival and victory. Cancer is a disease that impacts so many people and their families. It touched us when my son, Josh, fought pancreatic cancer. Caring Bridge was a wonderful way for our family to keep everyone updated on Josh's progress and we loved sharing good news. It helped us keep everyone apprised when Josh was declining and he loved reading all the messages he received on his Caring Bridge page. When we lost Josh in 2011, each and every message we received was like a hug from someone who cared and it helped us find comfort during that very sad time. You are helping others who are on a journey similar to yours and that is certainly a gift and inspiration to them. Thank you.
Sarah Tomassetti Jul 26, 2016 9:24am
I survived Castleman's Disease, and two Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I almost had to have stem-cell transplant but I found a marvelous doctor who treated me a different way. I have lived and am in remission after seven years of battling...
Jackie Stover Jul 26, 2016 2:04am
I'm impressed with that remarkable story of how he went through to feel better as it was a miracle!! I've had several major surgeries as it was all miracles. Doctors really do know their jobs well with the help of God. Prayers and supporters of family and friends helped too. As Jesus said to help each other. Peace be to all
Harold and Sandra Kunzman Jul 25, 2016 10:20pm
So thankful for this success story! May God continue to bless you!
ML Gieselman Jul 25, 2016 7:46pm
Bob, my 42 year old son has completed 4/6 treatments for non-Hodgekins lymphoma. He too uses CaringBridges and I will encourage him to read your blog. He is struggling with some ups and downs. To be expected. Yet each individual has their story that is helpful to others battling this disease
Janet Hoff Jul 22, 2016 8:04pm
My story sounds very much like Bob's. I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's in 2008 and went through chemo and radiation. I was almost at the five year "no return" rate when the cancer reappeared. This time besides chemo, it was suggested to me by my oncologist that I consider a stem cell transplant. A few months later I went through the transplant. I will never say that the treatment and recovery was easy. It wasn't. It was hard. It was at least a year before I felt somewhat normal. My present oncologist believes I am cured. So do I. I don't feel lucky. I feel blessed. Very, very blessed. I thank the wise people in the medical field and the awesome technology that I am here today. But, most of all, I thank God. He was my healer.
Pete Sangalang Jul 22, 2016 2:41pm
What an uplifting story. I too was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma in 2012. I went through 6 sessions of chemotheray with Kaiser in Brentwood, CA. After the 4th session followed by another scan any trace of the disease was gone. We have moved since then to Mt Horeb , WI to be close to our daughters, in case we need help, With God,s blessings the disease has not returned. I see my cancer doctor next Wednesday who monitors me every 6 months.. Thanks for your story Bob, I feel energized. Keep getting well. Lots of people need you,not to say the least your family. By Pete Sangalang July 22, 2016
Russ and Karen Bennett Jul 22, 2016 2:13pm
Here is our link in case anyone would like to see what our journey looked like. God Bless all! https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/russellbennett2
Russ and Karen Bennett Jul 22, 2016 2:07pm
My husband went through this same experience. Had the same diagnosis and treatment however, he was deployed in Afghanistan at the time he became ill. This posed a additional set of challenges that seemed impossible to overcome at the time. I am happy to say we are living proof of how the will to live and your faith in God can bring you through such a horrific experience. We are enjoying our life and our family and friends. We cherish every day and every breathe. I felt then as well as I do now that we are surrounded with angels and appreciate the simple life. Don't sweat the big stuff, it just doesn't matter. Be kind and love one another. My best to Bob and his family- and thank you Caring Bridge! We utilized the site as well and found comfort in being able to communicate what we wanted to, when we wanted to.......to family and friends near and far. It also served as our prayer chain mechanism.
Sam Hollis Jul 22, 2016 1:29pm
It's amazing what the desire to live ,and the many friends and family can get you through with prayer!!!! I've been one year after transplant and doing well. I get the bone marrow test next month to see if I have all of the donor cells. My Lukemia has progressed from " you have two weeks to live " till now a year later. Just remember every day is a new adventure and you have to live laugh and be happy no matter how much it may hurt.
Patricia Richardson Jul 22, 2016 12:11pm
Thank god for his healing power!!!!!
Tessa Jul 17, 2016 9:16am
God bless you and your family 😊 I had non hodgkin's lymphoma they found it when I was 2 months pregnant and the doctors wanted me to terminate the pregnancy but I told them no only God can do that so I went the whole pregnancy doing forms of chemo and I had a lot of surgery a as well . Right after I gave birth 2 months early and healed from the c- section I started three kinds of chemo I lost a lot of weight I lost my hair and even my teeth " the doctors never told me that some champs can make your teeth go " but I have my life since I have giving birth to 2 more children I got my hair back too lol I wish my teeth would come back tho lol I take it one day at a time I tell everyone treat today as if it is your last you never know if tomorrow will come . I tell my children God don't give you more then you can handle I am now disabled I have my little boy whom is developing autistic non verbal and I am about to be homeless in 48 hours if you could please help by sending your friends and family to read my story that will be a huge help to me I honestly have no family or friends . I pray for you that you remain cancer free God bless you and your family . My your life be blessed with piece and happiness
Kaela Blenkush Jun 30, 2016 12:58pm
What an inspiring story!
Barb Graham Jun 21, 2016 9:33am
Again, thank you, CaringBridge! I love this story about Bob Kaufman who used his experience to share and help others. Congratulations to him and his family. We have done the same thing! On June 7th, 2015, my husband dropped from his bicycle just feet across the US border in Point Roberts, Washington. He suffered six successive cardiac arrests, was placed on full life support and was not expected to live, especially without neurological damage. Today, just over one year later, he is fully functioning and fully retired, ready to enjoy every day and I have written his story, my first book, called Miracle at the Border, due September 25 of this year. Thank you CaringBridge for offering a safe place to record experience and keep others up to date.
Laura Jun 20, 2016 11:01pm
Glad to hear your wonderful outcome. God bless you. I lost my brother to non Hodgkin Lymphoma in Dec. 2009 after he had a stem cell transplant earlier that year. It bought him several more months and he went back to work and work until his passing.