For several years after his initial lymphoma diagnosis in 2008, Richard Hilton had his disease flare, appear dormant after treatment, and then return. In 2016, when a tumor appeared yet again, he and his wife Deborah came to Wilmot Cancer Institute for treatment.
“At Wilmot, we were always told what our condition was precisely and in terms that we could understand and especially treated with respect in terms of not talked down to,” Rich says. “We were shown compassion and given a plan.”
Paul van der Sloot, M.D., performed a biopsy and removed a lesion from his neck. Rich then saw Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., M.M.Sc., and began an oral chemotherapy drug called lenalidomide (Revlimid). He also had 28 radiation therapy treatments under his radiation oncologist, Louis “Sandy” Constine, M.D., who worked with a radiation oncologist closer to Rich’s home in Oswego, so Rich wouldn’t have to travel.
Having a team of oncologists felt really comforting for both Rich and Deb. Knowing Rich’s case would be discussed in a tumor board meeting of lymphoma experts from various disciplines instilled confidence.
“To have people who are so brilliant in their medicine and in their knowledge treat us like family and be a part of Richard’s care was incredible,” Deb says.
In August 2016, Rich had a brief hospital stay after a tumor broke through his skin. Matthew Miller, M.D., performed surgery and Rich stayed at Wilmot Cancer Center for three days. He recovered and a while later learned his lymphoma is in remission. He still comes in a few times a year for an infusion to boost his immune system, and he has check-ups with Lynn Rich, M.S., N.P., every six months.
While his cancer is considered incurable and there’s a chance it will come back, he’s doing his best to enjoy life right now. He spends time with his kids and three grandchildren – and is eagerly waiting for another to be born soon.
Because of their experience at Wilmot, Rich and Deb were inspired to find ways to support research here.
They participate in the Wilmot Warrior Walk and wrangled their family into supporting Wilmot, too.
“We put them all on our Warrior Walk team whether they liked it or not,” he laughs.
Rich also took a self-taught hobby – woodworking – and turned it into a fundraiser for Wilmot. He makes wooden pens, salt and pepper grinders, French rolling pins and more to sell at craft shows near home. He and Deb give all the money they make to Wilmot.
The pens alone take a few hours each to make. As a retired electrician, he jokes that he’s never worked so cheaply in his life, but he’s willing to do it for a place he calls a “blessing from heaven.”
“It’s amazing how you can achieve such a collection of medical professionals in the same location that have such talent and put it together with compassion,” Richard says.