Wellness Complex gives Lymphoma patient life back
Special to The Vista
Mike Brown of Fairfield Glade is the new leader of the Cancer Support Group at the Cumberland Medical Center Wellness Complexes. In his role, he has volunteered to help individuals dealing with cancer, or those who have a loved one with the disease.
He has a compelling story to tell. He says he knows a lot about fighting to survive, and will share it with anyone who wants to hear it.
Almost a year ago, Brown was in Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville undergoing stem cell replacement surgery by the hospital’s hematology transplant team.
Vanderbilt Transplant Center is one of the South’s main providers of solid organ and stem cell transplantation. It specializes in heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas and stem cell surgery.
After years of battling follicular lymphoma, it was his last option.
To prepare for the possibility of this kind of procedure, Brown’s brother and two sisters were tested and, remarkably, all three were matches.
Now, a year later, Brown is functioning well with an immune system, blood type and DNA donated by his brother..
“I keep thinking this is all science fiction,” he said.
Diagnosed in 2003, he has spent nearly nine years battling cancer.
“I can now gratefully say I am not dying with cancer. I’m living past it.”
“Over the long period of time I was sick, I trained at the Wellness Complex with Tres Baucum. He seemed to sense how far he could push me, and he did it. When I was low on strength, he knew it, and we just walked and talked.
“That regular exercising gave me the physical strength to survive. I know that without staying as fit as I could be with my condition, I probably would not have made it through the years I spent looking for an answer to my problem.
“I am convinced I could not have survived the transplant surgery without Tres pushing me physically to keep strong,” Brown explained.
Baucum said, “Mike is an inspiration to all of us at the Wellness Complex. In the 15 years I have been training clients, I have had many with one type of cancer or another.
“Cancer beats you up mentally, as well as physically. He was too stubborn to let it get to him. That’s how you fight it.”
“In my experience,” Baucum added, “and according to the latest research, exercise trains the body and the mind to fight age, disease, injury, and stress. The American Cancer Society research shows the benefits of exercise with all cancers, even during treatments.
“It relieves the stress from disease on the mind and body. It promotes and quickens healing. It can dampen the effects of the treatments.”
Brown will be taking over leadership of the Cancer Support Group from Bob Vickers, who retired at 86 years of age after 10 years as a personal trainer at the Fairfield Wellness Complex.
He volunteered because of his experience with lung cancer and with the illness and death of his wife, Pat, from also from cancer.
Brown is the registered principal of the Private Wealth Management Group, LLC, located in the Village Mall at Fairfield Glade.
Despite the ups and downs of his disease and treatments, he continued to run both businesses.
“I am so grateful for the understanding and support of my clients, and for the help from professional friends, who gave me a hand when I needed it,” Brown said.
He said his wife, Sue, “never gave up. I called her my Surgeon General.”
Brown was in several clinical trials. During one of them, he commuted every day for four months to Nashville and back.
“I’d get there at 10 a.m. and leave between 5 and 9 p.m. to go home,” he said.
“You get crazy trying to stay upbeat while you’re waiting for a treatment that might or might not work. We were all really sick, so I decided to lighten things up.”
“I bet Sue a dollar I could outlast my dose of Benadryl and stay awake for 30 minutes,” Brown said.
“Other patients started smiling. Then they began betting. Next thing I know there’s a pool. I’m not sure how I managed it, but I conked out at 31 minutes. When I woke up, I’d won $26.”
Now that a year has past and he continues to feel better and stronger, he plans to “tackle the world again.”
“Let’s just say, ‘Mike Brown is back,” he added.