Waiting for the Next Breakthrough: Living With a Chronic Blood Cancer

"Neither feels guilty about surviving — although both have had plenty of reminders that they’re dealing with cancer — and both have found ways to continue enjoying life." 
BY TARA HAELLE
PUBLISHED: APRIL 05, 2017

LIVING ON OPPOSITE SIDES of the country, Larry Saltzman and George Leder have never met, but have a lot in common: both received their cancer diagnoses in January 2010, both were diagnosed with more than one cancer, and both have hopped from one treatment to another to stay one step ahead of their cancers. They have adapted to living with a chronic blood cancer that will likely be with them for the rest of their lives. Neither feels guilty about surviving — although both have had plenty of reminders that they’re dealing with cancer — and both have found ways to continue enjoying life. “There were points in my journey over the past seven years where it came into my head every 30 seconds, ‘You have cancer,’ and now, it’s less for sure,” says LARRY SALTZMAN, diagnosed with CML in 2010, managed to run three halfmarathons in 2016.

Saltzman, M.D., a 63-yearold former family physician from Sacramento, California, who has atypical chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small cell lymphocytic lymphoma. He responded initially with shock, sadness and feeling a bit sorry for himself, followed immediately by wanting to know his timeline. And now? “Lately, I guess I’m feeling so good about things that on rare occasions, I forget to take the pills out of the medicine cabinet first thing in the morning.”

But it’s a give-and-take, he adds. “My quality of life is good. I work, work out, see my family and we travel,” he says. “I don’t have the worst, and I don’t have the best.” He feels lucky, having lost friends to pancreatic cancer and his sister to breast cancer, and he knows he’s fortunate to have a health insurance plan that adequately covers his expensive treatments. He’s been able to visit the Grand Canyon, but still yearns to visit India, which his doctors have nixed because the risk of encountering life-threatening germs is too great. A former marathon runner, he managed to run three half-marathons in 2016. However, he has had to give up his medical practice. “Just like going to India or eating sushi, a family medical practice is not the most germ-free environment,” says Saltzman. “I had to give up something I was very good at and enjoyed very much.”



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