DHK - Representative Chris Walsh, 66, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a white blood cell cancer), Framingham, with Dr. Matthew Davids, associate director, Center for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Physician, Dana-Farber 8-16-17

WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon
Wednesday, August 16th
Christopher Walsh can still remember the day he found a suspicious lump on his groin. He immediately went to the doctor to have the lump biopsied, and results confirmed that Chris had non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was diagnosed in June 2015, and immediately decided to go to Dana-Farber because he wanted “the best to take care of it.” As the cancer began to get a bit more complicated, Dr. Davids started Chris on a clinical trial involving chemotherapy a targeted gene therapy. That treatment has not worked to satisfaction, so Chris is now launching into a newer form of treatment: immunotherapy. 

He has been married for almost 33 years and has 2 adult children. He is a state legislator representing the 6th Middlesex district in Framingham. Prior to that, he served as an architect for 30 years. Chris says that one of the things that has been incredible is the community support he has experienced. He had a few reservations about publicly coming out with this cancer, but given his role in the community, he did so and he has found that people appreciate the process and struggles he has endured. He has ultimate confidence in Dana-Farber’s continued fight for a cure. 

After obtaining an A.B. in chemistry at Harvard College, Dr. Davids completed his M.D. at Yale University School of Medicine. He served as an intern, resident, and assistant chief resident in internal medicine at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He then completed his fellowship in hematology and oncology in Dana-Farber/Partners CancerCare, and a Masters in Medical Science (MMSc) at Harvard Medical School.

He is an attending physician in the Lymphoma Program of the Division of Hematologic Malignancies at Dana-Farber, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and is the Associate Director of the Dana-Farber CLL Center.

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

The month. Right now we get to yes in now representative Chris Walsh. From the great it now it's a city rise town anymore it's okay from from Framingham. He and and young men producer little Framingham moment earlier you know shared a little offering him personally until the story then there are not a good Roland I'll tell us. Now they're trying to. So we are talking about the fact that it was a year and my daughter. He's very honest which that was very political Wheaties. Remember. Your daughter there. I'd like hell yeah it looks as though as it and I am very many people at all and then also there's a good reasons now. You know does that now since I grew up in the sixties I had reasons. That. Well I I don't know I decided that I president of there isn't a guy who drew who acts like he drove him to six and that's everything I think that maybe you or do. Doctor Matthew David is here as well associate director center for chronic limb folks Citic leukemia physician. At the Dana Farber Chris let's start with the day you found along. Yeah that was. Interesting day get a today it's one of those things you. You just it was there's a lump just below my groin and to sort of an odd thing and it. Couple times it had things like Lyme Disease that I can't you know like at this hour check myself out. And a wit to. My primary whose you know a lot of different things it's not too worried that it it will have a surgeon look at it. And surgeon. Sort of making. Noise about how it was probably nothing skeptic but that fact it turned out to be lymphoma. And right away. I sort of thought well if you're gonna have something like lymphoma in Boston you're getting that far. And I can pass around. So like I. We looked at the data file ever sight it various doctors. Looked at what they've done it with Hayward. Tan media call that. That meant it. Us. It's one of us think it's it's sort of a yen mind bending experience. Realize you have serious cancer. But. I have to say that the that it will take care. I say that all the way through this process well here. Doctor David who what was one of the first things that you said to Chris. Upon meeting him. So Chris has chronicle Pacific leukemia which is both leukemia and lymphoma and one of the things that's a little hard for patients to wrap their heads around is that they usually don't need treatment right away diagnosis it's very different from a lot of cancers the one of the first things a center Chris was that good news is you don't need treatment now. That we need to use an additional testing. Unfortunately some of that testing revealed that Chris has a much more aggressive form of sealed in the most patients. And so we had discussion early on where where we talked about that in and that he was likely need to McPherson. The crowd up and others argue just real quick follow that I don't like to me. Blanket statements but to say in general and general. From your experience doctor. It is there a different approach and talking about medical thing medical issues we've man. As opposed to women because the cliche about us about men stereotype is that you know group bloom where the candidate who suffered a get us to a bit vulnerability has that been your experience in general. In general at a casino. Owner Erica just Uga. Yeah so I attended with what what things I have to decide and being. Here politician. That's as tiger's. Wife and it's it's it's it's literally put out to the public view. I had a very good friends than. In the state house. Western mass. Who just recently passed away from breast cancer returned. No never she never told case. At this I took a different I acted extremely public. Actually. Local access TV via de. Spent the people. I was progress is doing. At a sugar coat it. Thanks packets that it's been very good for both. People in my district realize. Having a disease and cancer. Job. Disease and so well at. Read the pleased the way people. Responded. To support if that was one of the things that christened the about structure for me I want the truth. Cycle from the beginning outward about this field on. Yeah from. Poland and every year the initial treatment did not know. All that well and it changed things happen but also so that. Like that's at the the average bull. Underlying. Diseases but call. That that's where. We're just control it. But when it transform it became much more rest. We we really test the next day it in treatment. And we did he gulf war room. Four sessions for sessions which we long. Week off we could. Very well that week where it all the third week. Four sessions. And it was working but not working well enough. So we've moved on from. And really shifted gears. And there. Which has. Its its. I'm optimistic. It's as they would say cart out. It. And and Christian product the word. I completed doing these things just a few years ago. I interpret the word immunotherapy. I article lockyer over the last two days how dramatically different at this. It's really revolutionized the care of a lot of different types of cancer including some of the solid tumors that have previously been incredibly factory chemotherapy. It's it's a little bit newer in the blood cancers it's showing showed a lot of promise and out and lymphoma where immunotherapy is now FDA approved or religious starting to explored in these diseases like Ceylon and he has now it's called victors transformation which. Is when seal becomes a much more aggressive disease. So I think one of the things that's amazing about the relationship between immunotherapy Indian farmers that the molecule that is targeted called PD one. Was discovered renting apartments side discordant treatment. So a lot of these treatments that have now been developed realist science start renting Farber. The other thing that I wanted to highlight about the chemotherapy that Chris Scott was that it was on a clinical trial that included a drug called phonetic fox. This is a drug that also was based on science that was developed Dana Farber even going back to the eighties and nineties. And Chris is is indeed a little bit bashful here but he was incredibly courageous because he was the first patient in the world with this type of cancer to go on this regiment. So I thought it took a lot of bravery to it actually on this trial. And it's your bravery. That you look at your choices in life that you can't ago. You know what choices we just go down the road we know which didn't really sound all that great and and so I mean one of the reasons way and I I looked away as such it looked at had Matt says as being mine colleges was because. Young aggressive Smart. You know it's it's you want someone who'll get in there and fight for you and it and not to take away anything from anybody else does and they're all good. That you want someone who really is going to be in your quarter and think about all of those. Possibilities and opportunities. If it was an easy choice for me. Art so make sure it is right doctor David. First person in the world threat. To receive this combination of drugs the drugs have been used in other patient let this put these together for this disease crystal the first patient the world to receive this pioneer. Well Iranian about that we're from OK I'm done that I've got to watch out. So I'm not sure that that factor David's. That this music that I said I was very. Upfront with everybody in my district about what that's doing so I'd term myself going into the hospital GP one. One. End and I found on on. Web sites that series. Guinea pigs in various. You know with those suitcases going to hospital that of course when I when I shaved my head I asked them and it is my air. Yes you can lose here so I decided not to look like dog. In August in Georgia and into shape at all and so I found these. Hairless. An hour and a and a horse loved obviously and of course the people of my get a people that were found by me on line really responded today you know it's nice that you sense of humor that does it. Obviously is dangers that. That's if you don't have much. I heard what we've met so many interesting people here. Over the course of these two days in and wanting to stand up to me your bio and you just. Just tell us how this happened how do you go from being an architect. To a politician when architects were. Thirty years thirty years so yeah just one date on our design buildings and houses anymore when it design lost a Munich and well. I I tell you but that the actual skills. A legislator. Is not really different from the skill set up an architect. And what I mean by that is an architect you have got to listen to people and you've got to figure out what their actions seeing people never really you. I Wear when you say that they tell you the truth is not accurate they tell you what they believe. Is wrong. And then you have to sort of suss out what the underlying conditions. And you have to come up with the sort of interest in alternatives are out of the box thinking. Yet to be able to listen to people. Have to be able to sort of follow. You know follow code rules what. So the skill sets actually. Pre preakness and I quite honestly I encourage. Architects all the time to think about going into government has. It's a skill set that they develop working with people that. I actually think we it's really. Our producer and get a ticket in framing and even effect a form I can't I can't fix it. Yeah I know ultimately that's an irony is that there's very profound thing about those that it now a photo where it's at present so what does that skill sets is not going to jail. On the effort to make too many of us that have. I stepped over that line. Representative Chris Walsh you've been a delight and doctor Matthew David thank you guys vote will be sincerely appreciate it in the chair. You.