Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Name Dr. Craig Boyer the Honored Hero for the 2012 North Texas Chapter
My name is Craig Boyer. I am a husband, father, son, brother, anesthesiologist, sailor, athlete and cancer patient. I was diagnosed with follicular B-cell lymphoma, a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, ten years ago. There is no cure for it yet. At the time of my diagnosis the mean time to death was six years with or without treatment. But, there was a new drug called Retuxan that my oncologist thought could put me in long-term remission. Retuxan is an antibody that is infused through an IV and then binds to the cancer cells. In doing this, its stimulates the body’s immune system to kill the cancer cells. I ended up receiving 6 rounds of chemo plus Retuxan.
My cancer has come back twice since my first diagnosis. Each subsequent time I have been given only Retuxan (no chemo). My body seems to respond well to it and I?m hoping this sophisticated drug is enough to bridge me over until there is a cure.
When I started my chemotherapy, I began to realize that I had a lot of things I still wanted to accomplish. I was motivated to keep a positive attitude and vowed to live my life to the utmost. My dad was a fisherman on Lake Michigan, so I grew up on the water and loved it. I had my first sailing experience in Savannah Georgia when I was in college, on a wooden 24 ft. gaff rigged cutter. I have loved wooden boats and sailing ever since. I later sailed the club boats at the College of Charleston every chance I could. When my wife, Wendy, and I moved to Seattle for my anesthesia residency, we were excited to do some sailing in such a great city. We always dreamed of owning our own boat someday. We have done a lot of sailing since moving to Texas, of all places. We took some ASA courses like coastal navigation and coastal cruising with North Texas Sailing School. We have enjoyed sailing vacations chartering in places like the San Juan Islands and Northern Lake Michigan.
I remember for my birthday (during my chemotherapy), Wendy arranged a sailing trip out of Port Townsend, Washington on a 45-foot wooden sloop. It as such a great gift, because at the time I didn’t know if I would ever get another chance to sail period. Wow, what a great day and what an impressive boat. It was fast, beautiful and felt alive under sail.
Now we are planning a dream trip of sailing for an entire year. We just purchased a 42 ft. Manta catamaran in Florida and plan to depart in June. Wendy and I will homeschool our three daughters. We plan to sail from Maine to Florida and then the Western Caribbean. We have learned over the years, in between my cancer recurrences, that life is too short not to live it to its fullest. We saw this opportunity and are taking it!
During my treatment, we learned about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Team in Training. TNT is the largest endurance sports training program in the world and has trained one half million athletes and raised over 1.2 billion dollars for LLS. This is an important part of the story because I am here today because Retuxan was researched from the money raised by TNT.
I wanted to give back to the community that had helped us, so I decided to do a sprint triathlon and raise money for LLS. Then Wendy got involved and ran 2 marathons with TNT and I did a half-ironman triathlon this past year. Together we have raised over $20,000 for LLS. We are so thankful for all the money raised by organizations like the Leukemia Cup Regatta and Team in Training, as it has a direct impact on the research that could save my life!
For more information about the Boyer Family’s year long dream sailing trip, visit his personal blog.