David and Carol H.

My friends refer to me as the Miracle Man. I earned that nickname after bouncing back from a series of cancer diagnoses and skiing and biking injuries.

It all started one afternoon in 1996 when I noticed a lump on the left side of my neck. A needle biopsy confirmed that it was non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

I was apprehensive, but I had a glass-half-full attitude. My oncologist called Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) to discuss my diagnosis, and they agreed on a treatment protocol. A few weeks later, I began chemotherapy near my home in Clark Summit, Pennsylvania.

After six cycles of chemo, my cancer went into remission! Life returned to normal. I continued my civil law practice, spent time with my family, and skied as I had in the past. I was having my preferred type of adventure again.

Carol and David H in 1998
Carol and David H. in 1998

Eight years later, I received terrible news. My lymphoma was back. I remained optimistic as my wife, Carol, and I left the doctor’s office. On our drive home, Carol suddenly pulled the car to the side of the road, grabbed her phone, and called MSK. 

She connected with a patient advocate at MSK and explained my diagnosis and the details of my relapse. Through the phone I could hear the patient advocate say, “Can you be in New York tomorrow morning?”

“Tomorrow?” exclaimed Carol. “Absolutely.” And the next morning, we were on our way to MSK. This was the first of two miracles that I would experience in my battle against lymphoma.

I was placed under the excellent care of lymphoma specialist Ariela Noy, MD. For several years, Dr. Noy and my care team closely monitored my progress, but in 2008, it became clear that we needed to change our approach.

After many tests, Dr. Noy determined that the next step was a stem cell transplant. It was going to be an intensive process, but I was ready. I knew that approaching this challenge with an attitude of positivity and trust in my team would make it easier to handle. The concern started to set in when I learned that Medicare had denied authorization for the transplant. However, Dr. Noy was committed to getting me the treatment. “I will find one way or another to skin this cat,” she told me. I will never forget that phrase.

Dr. Noy searched until she found a clinical trial that matched my case. Eventually, I enrolled in a study that allowed me to receive the stem cell transplant, and I spent four trying months in New York City for treatment. This was the second miracle. Thanks to Dr. Noy’s perseverance, I have been cancer-free for the past 15 years!

Carol and I are deeply grateful to Dr. Noy and my care team at MSK. While we believe in miracles, we also know that the treatments I received were the direct result of research that had been funded by philanthropy. This is why we strongly support lymphoma research at MSK.

We are also proud to include MSK in our estate plans so that doctors at MSK and around the world can continue to provide personalized care for their patients, especially when the odds seem stacked against them. As members of the Elizabeth Hamilton Cullum Society, MSK’s community of legacy donors, we know that gifts such as ours will have an impact for generations to come. I hope you will consider joining us in supporting MSK, because lifesaving treatment and care should be available to all.

To learn how you can make a meaningful gift to impact MSK patients for years to come, contact the Office of Gift Planning at giftplanning@mskcc.org or 800-688-1827.