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Doctor Gives Hope to Cancer Patients

Trace Christenson
The Battle Creek Enquirer

(Originally published by the Battle Creek Enquirer on October 16, and used with permission. The opinions expressed by the Battle Creek Enquirer do not necessarily represent those of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.)

Fred Pyles is living the message of a prominent cancer physician who spoke in Battle Creek on Saturday.

Dr. Lawrence Einhorn, professor of medicine at Indiana University and the doctor who treated seven-time Tour de France bicycle race winner Lance Armstrong, told Pyles in January he has hope. Einhorn had the same message of hope for a room full of people that cancer patients have hope.

“When I was diagnosed, I had no idea what to expect,” Pyles said. “But when I talked with him, he made me feel at ease and said it was a 100 percent cure.”

Pyles, 40, from Bronson and a Coldwater police officer, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in January and completed treatment under Einhorn’s supervision in April. He will visit the doctor in December and expects to be cured of the disease. Pyles and his family and several other former patients of Einhorn were in the audience for a community breakfast at the McCamly Plaza Hotel after nearly two dozen rode their bikes from Battle Creek Health System through downtown to the hotel.

Pyles’ result is what more and more people, especially those with testicular cancer, are achieving.

Einhorn told the nearly 250 people at a program sponsored by the Health Care Leadership Forum that the little known cancer once killed 95 percent of those who contracted it. Now, 95 percent of the patients survive.

The most famous is Armstrong, who last summer won the premier race in cycling for the seventh consecutive time.

But in 1996 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer which had spread to his lungs and brain. He went to Einhorn for help.

“He started his treatment nine years ago this week,” Einhorn said. “When he was diagnosed he had never heard of testicular cancer. And I had never heard of Lance Armstrong.”

Einhorn explained that advances in treatment of the disease, especially the ability of doctors to tailor specific drugs to the individual person, has dramatically improved the percentage of those cured of many types of cancer.

“Advancements are finding the cancer early and knowing when to stop the treatment,” Einhorn said.

He expects science to make huge strides in the next two decades.

The message Saturday was the same as at several other appearances Einhorn has made in Battle Creek in recent days as a W.K. Kellogg Expert in Residence.

“Advances are being made, there is hope for survival, that he is a humble man who has made great strides but more has to be done; that has been the message,” said Nancy Lassen, executive director of the Health Care Leadership Forum, which attempts to provide information within the health care community. “Advances are being made but we need to spur the imagination of young people to go into research.”

Pyles said he learned from Einhorn that people with cancer have hope.

“It still has a stigma, it is a nasty word and it kind of scared me but I am not going to die,” he said.

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