Brad Adams: My Approach to Life With CLL

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Topics include: Patient Stories

Diagnosed with CLL in 2010, powerful patient advocate Brad Adams has completed five cycles of FCR. Brad shares his story with Patient Power founder Andrew Schorr, discussing how he coped with his diagnosis and how he found a specialist.  Brad and his family approached CLL head-on, and Brad explains why he feels that staying plugged-in and giving back to the community is a blessing.

Provided by CLL Global Research Foundation, which received support from AbbVie Inc., Genentech Inc., Gilead Sciences, Pharmacyclics, Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals and TG Therapeutics. In partnership with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

Hello and welcome to Patient Power.  I'm Andrew Schorr.  I'm sitting with Brad Adams from Houston.  Now, like me, many years ago I got FCR for CLL, fludarabine (Fludara)/cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)/rituximab (Rituxan).  I was in a Phase II trial, but many patients have gotten it worldwide and continue to.  Brad, you got FCR how long ago? 

Brad Adams:

It was in 2014. 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  Five cycles of it.  

Brad Adams:

That's right.  

Andrew Schorr:

How are you doing? 

Brad Adams:

I'm doing great. 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  So there are some people who have said, well, chemo, and two of those drugs are kind of chemo drugs, is dead in CLL, and no, it's not.  It still gets used a lot of places and has a utility for some patients.  So it's not easy…

Brad Adams:

No. 

Andrew Schorr:

…right? 

Brad Adams:

No, it wasn't. 

Andrew Schorr:

And you ended up having a couple of hospitalizations. 

Brad Adams:

Right. 

Andrew Schorr:

You had a sinus infection. 

Brad Adams:

Yeah.  It started with a fever that put me in the hospital, right? 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay. 

Brad Adams:

And then the other I believe was just because after the first round my lymph nodes were so large in my abdomen that when the chemo was administered it immediately shrunk those lymph nodes, and I believe that the organs had to reposition themselves.  At least that's mentally how I think about it.  It just caused a lot of pain. 

Andrew Schorr:

Now, you were diagnosed at what age? 

Brad Adams:

Well, it was in 2010, so I was born in '53, so we can do the math.  56? 

Andrew Schorr:

Yeah, okay.  So you get diagnosed with this.  How did you process it and move on? 

Brad Adams:

Actually, so my diagnosis was like many people's CLL diagnosis in that it was a surprise, but my doctor, my primary doctor had been preparing me that you might have CLL.  And so when it was diagnosed officially I wasn't surprised.  Now, the emotional aspect is different than the physical diagnosis, and I've wondered about this.  I don't know what it is, faith or something, but it just never occurred to me to be anything other than all right, what do we need to do?  And that's the way I approached it. 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  Now, you have children and grandchildren. 

Brad Adams:

That's right. 

Andrew Schorr:

And you were public about it.  They knew that dad or grandpa was diagnosed with a blood cancer. 

Brad Adams:

Yes. 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  How have you managed their feelings about it, and your wife Phyllis as well, so that you all can be positive and move on? 

Brad Adams:

Again, I think in the very beginning I just never let it get to me.  I never got down about it.  I just was determined to do whatever we had to do to beat it, and I think Phyllis adopted that attitude, and we never presented it to my family, to our daughter, to my parents or anybody as there's a chance I'm going to die.  We just—we just said this is something we're going to have to do, and this is how we're going to tackle it. 

Andrew Schorr:

And how do you feel about the future? 

Brad Adams:

I'm very optimistic about the future.  I'm not worried about it at all. 

Andrew Schorr:

Now, Brad, how has Patient Power helped you?  We're very devoted to it.  Has it been of assistance to you?  

Brad Adams:

Absolutely.  And, in fact, I went to your seminar two or three years ago here in Houston, and that's how I got introduced to Dr. Keating.  My original oncologist was Susan O'Brien.  When she left MD Anderson, I was faced with a decision, who do I go to?  I chose Dr. Keating largely because I got to see him interact with people in the audience.  So that's very—one real tangible benefit that you provided to me, but then also the information on website has been huge as well.  And now today has given me an opportunity to give back. 

Andrew Schorr:

Right.  You've been in another town hall meeting.  All right.  What would you say to people about staying informed?  It sounds like you want to stay plugged in knowing you still have CLL, even in deep remission, and you don't know whether it should come up again or what.  So it sounds like you continue to be informed. 

Brad Adams:

Well, certainly I'm seeing Dr. Keating every six months, so that keeps me on top of the latest developments in terms of new drugs and so forth.  And I'm also volunteering with Leukemia & Lymphoma [Society] and MD Anderson itself, and that will keep me informed as well as well as treatments and other aspects of the disease change. 

Andrew Schorr:

And you stay up with Patient Power. 

Brad Adams:

And stay up with Patient Power, absolutely. 

Andrew Schorr:

Now, Brad, you've chosen to be a volunteer.  How come? 

Brad Adams:

Because I just—I just feel very blessed to have this particular disease that's treatable.  There's a cure on the horizon, I'm convinced of that, and I just feel like I need to give back. 

Andrew Schorr:

Well, good for you.  Brad Adams, thank you so much for all you do. 

Brad Adams:

Thank you. 

Andrew Schorr:

And thanks for being a Patient Power member and follower, and we hope we can help you.  But we hope that you'll just go on and have that long life and celebrate some weddings even with those grandchildren. 

Brad Adams:

Absolutely. 

Andrew Schorr:

All right.  Andrew Schorr with Brad Adams here in Houston, Texas, and what a great CLL community we have.  And it's wonderful when we can help each other, and that's so much fun.  Remember, knowledge can be the best medicine of all.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on March 27, 2017