Redding Resident Shares His Journey to Cancer Survivorship

Western Connecticut Health Network
Michael Cohenuram, M.D.

DANBURY, Connecticut – July 6, 2016 - When Walter King began to experience extreme fatigue and intolerable night sweats, he knew something wasn’t right. A physically fit and active man, he found it difficult to play tennis and paddle tennis as often as he wanted. The 80-year-old Redding resident went to see his long-time physician in Greenwich where preliminary tests suggested a possible infection or autoimmune disease.

After a series of scans and a liver biopsy, results revealed King had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. “While the news that I had cancer was discouraging, I stayed positive,” King said. “Particularly when we learned there was an oncologist close to home who was considered to be a leader in treating my type of cancer.”

King and his wife Patricia next went to see Dr. Michael Cohenuram of the Western Connecticut Medical Group - medical oncology/hematology at the Praxair Cancer Center at Danbury Hospital. After a comprehensive examination and consultation, King was admitted to Danbury Hospital for pathology testing, a bone marrow biopsy, a PET scan, and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to confirm the type of cancer and if it had spread.

The good news was that the cancer had not spread, but tests confirmed that King was suffering from diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), a non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“DLBCL is an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that needs to be treated as quickly as possible,” Dr. Cohenuram said. “The standard course of treatment for DLBCL is rituximab plus CHOP* chemotherapy (R-CHOP*). “We scheduled Mr. King’s first chemotherapy infusion within 24 hours of diagnosis to determine how well he would tolerate the treatments,” Dr. Cohenuram said. Shortly thereafter, King started regular infusions at the Praxair Cancer Center at Danbury Hospital and continued with a prescribed regimen of six cycles of chemotherapy every three weeks for 18 weeks.

“Dr. Cohenuram explained that I would not feel well at first as a result of the transfusions, but he assured me that I would start to feel better soon,” King said.

“As predicted, after each infusion, I felt lousy, and was confined to the couch with my books, I-Pad, and watching TV,” King said. “A friend encouraged me to start playing paddle tennis again. Despite the cold weather and snow I still decided to meet him and we played almost every day throughout the winter. That gave me the stamina to get through my treatments,” King added.

King was happily surprised after his first cycle that there was a substantial improvement in his blood. “I was in pretty good physical condition, which I credit to playing tennis for more than 30 years,” King said. “Dr. Cohenuram said he was optimistic about my recovery and everything he said came true. Now that’s just incredible. I still can’t get over that, King added.”

“The oncology nurses and staff at the Praxair Cancer Center work together as a team and that instilled confidence,” King said. “They explained my disease in detail with knowledge, empathy, kindness, concern and openness. That helped to ease our fears.”

On May 26, 2016, King learned that he is a healthy cancer survivor. The chemotherapy treatments worked and he is now on the other side of this diagnosis. “I’m thankful for the invaluable support from my wife who was always by my side. Also helping me during my treatment and recovery were the new friends that I made and old friendships that were strengthened, King said.”

“When it’s time for my follow-up appointments with Mike (Dr. Cohenuram), the first thing we do when we see him is hug him,” King said. “I’ve never had a relationship with a doctor like this one.”