Daniel UpDyke was diagnosed with Leukemia in 1999 at the age of 24. He remembers sitting in front of Dr. Matt Kalaycio, Cleveland Clinic's department chair for Hematology and Oncology, waiting for any small sign of hope.
"We have our initial consult with Dr. Kalaycio and he walks in, he opens up my folder, my file, goes, 'Yep. You got it, now let’s beat it.' [sic]," says Daniel.
"His was more of a let's go attack it, let's go fight it, we can do this together kind of an attitude. That's exactly what I needed being a 24 year old man and still you know wanting to go out and do things, and tackle the world."
He notes that Dr. Kalaycio's attitude about attacking Daniel's cancer was a welcome about-face from the empathetic cards and well-wishes he'd received from friends and family.
"His was more of a let's go attack it, let's go fight it, we can do this together kind of an attitude. That's exactly what I needed being a 24 year old man and still you know wanting to go out and do things, and tackle the world [sic]," Daniel says.
After Daniel's body could not recover from the chemo therapy, despite six weeks of platelet transfusions, doctors decided that a bone marrow transplant would be necessary. They believed Daniel would not be able to withstand a second round of chemo.
Daniel's sister was a perfect match for the transplant.
"People say, 'You had a bone marrow transplant; did it hurt?'' Well they didn’t actually scoop out bone marrow... It’s a blood transfusion right, essentially, it’s no different than getting any kind of other, any other IV, but nobody understands that[sic]," says Daniel
17 years later, Daniel has learned a few things about himself and overcoming overwhelming odds.
"I’ve used the word survivor, I don’t know if that’s the way that I really feel. Victorious is probably a better way of feeling. I feel like I defeated something... To me it was more about competing against something and coming out on top and winning [sic]," Daniel says.
Daniel recognizes the significant role Cleveland Clinic played in his recovery and the expertise within the multitude of teams working there.
"To me it’s absolutely a no brainier... It’s not just the size of the Clinic and the amount of care that you can get within the cancer department. They have seen so many patients, they have so much experience, they have so many resources at their disposal, but it’s the full care... They have entire departments, and divisions, and buildings surrounding each individual discipline. So when you come here, you know that you can get complete care and if your doctor has a concern over an item, he doesn’t have to refer you to a specialist at another facility scheduling next week," says Daniel.
10 years have passed since the last time Daniel had to take medication for Leukemia. He has three kids, twin girls and a son, the youngest.
"My life is exceptionally ordinary and busy. I’ve got a good career, a great wife. We’ve ah now been married 18 years... our first anniversary was between treatments. So my life has become very normal, which is I guess the best possible outcome of all of this. Cancer's really the last thing from anybody’s mind [sic]," Daniel says.
Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center