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Michael R’s Story

michael roth

I have raced large and small sailboats from California to Hawaii, to Mexico, in Florida and around Hong Kong since I was in college. I was invincible surfing down giant ocean waves crossing oceans or just doing day races out of different ports around the world.

In March 2014 while sailing on a 45’ ocean racing yacht off Waikiki my left hand was letting lines slip when I thought I had a good grip on them. Later that day I was at my desk in Honolulu typing when everything my left had typed was gibberish. I had noticed for a few days my left hand was having trouble with buttoning and it was dropping things. Now it felt serious. 

I called my doctor to find he was on holiday. A fill in doctor had me come right in to take some tests. The first thought was a stroke. After ruling out a stroke I had a brain MRI. There it was, a brain tumor on the right side. I was told they scheduled me for a meeting with the neurosurgeon in 1.5 weeks and that was it. I was left on my own.

Not know anything else my wife and I set out to put my affairs in order. We updated my will, set up plans for my funeral and I spoke with all of my family on the mainland recruiting their help for my wife and son.

At my meeting with the neurosurgeon he told me he could fix my brain in four hours and he scheduled the surgery for the next week. He did it. After four hours I was wheeled into the ICU. The next day I was helping my son with his algebra from my ICU bed. I was released and all seemed to be fine. The biopsy on the brain tumor came back positive for cancer. 

In September 2014 my oncologist determined that I had three tumors in my right lung that are most likely the primary cancer and I have stage four-lung cancer. He said I had two years to live and that he can only offer me palliative treatment. Palliative is relieving pain without dealing with the underlying cause. This was not good enough. I asked for a second opinion and I spoke with a second oncologist. He was restrained, like the first oncologist, to the HMO’s standard of care but suggested I look for clinical trials that focus on my type of lung cancer.

My wife’s mother in San Diego suggested I talk with the Sarcoma Cancer Center in Santa Monica. They had successfully cured her friend’s lung cancer when all else had given up.

I set up a phone appointment and spoke with Dr. Chawla. I had sent in all my test results and scans. He shared that I may qualify for a new clinical trial he was involved with. I used all of my frequent flyer miles to fly from Honolulu to Los Angeles to make the first meeting where I was approved to start the clinical trial.

The clinical trial consisted of chemotherapy three Tuesdays a month with a new oral component being tested and then one week off at his offices in Santa Monica.

Living in Hawaii it was going to be very expensive and maybe even prohibitive to attend the clinical trial. This is where I was introduced to LAZAREX by one of the office workers. I spoke with them on the phone and then filled out their application. They were so understanding and helpful. They were able to help me with some of my travel expenses and made it possible for me to attend the trials. Without them I would not been able to afford all the travel.

After six cycles, 18 chemotherapy sessions, I have no new tumors. One tumor has shrunk and the other two tumors are stable. It has been over a year and I feel better than I did when I was first diagnosed. 

Thanks to LAZAREX I can still work, support my family, fulfill my duties as a US Sailing National Judge and a board member of the WYC Education foundation. At the Foundation we work to give kids the opportunity to learn sailing at little or no cost. In December 2014 I was nominated to be the 2015 Commodore of the Hawaii Youth Sailing Association where we co-ordinate all of the youth sailing in the State.

Thank you LAZAREX for the opportunity to keep living, enjoying my family and to keep helping the keiki of Hawaii to learn to sail.

Michael Roth
Oahu, Hawaii