Robert Ritz

Robert Ritz

Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Grand Blanc, MI


Robert was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in November 1999. As the first person on record in United States with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma starting as a brain tumor, Robert was administrated to the hospital and started with a radiation therapy of ten months. Knowing the rate of survival was only 20%, he fought through the disease with incredible determination. Unfortunately, he was admitted into the hospital in January 2006 because of a second tumor. After a 15 month bout of chemotherapy, he showed little improvement.

The hardest part was that while Robert had to face the pain caused by the treatment, he also had to quit smoking to prepare for the transplant. As an outdoor life lover, following doctor's advice to stay away from every possible external hazard and cigarette was very difficult. The psychological pain of smoking addiction aggravated his condition. Rather miraculously, he lived through once again. The positive altitude and determination of this two time cancer survivor inspired many other cancer patient.

Never Never Never Give Up

I am a twice survivor of cancer... November 1999 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was the first recorded patient that has an Hodgkin’s Lymphoma started in brain tumor. I ended up going to 6 months of radiation and they only gave me about a 20% chance of living. After 5 years, they found that the cancer came back. So in January 2006, it came back and it was pretty aggressive. I did 15 months of chemotherapy and I was not doing any good. I was on the hardest chemo treatment the hospital had. So my last resort was doing a transplant, and they hoped that the transplant would knock the cancer down enough so they were able to come up with a new treatment. Being hooked up in a hospital and unable to go out for six to eight weeks was hard. I did not want to be confined in an area. After seven or eight weeks later, it totally eradicated the cancer, even though they only give me 10% chance of getting out of hospital.

All About Attitude

I do a lot of talking and doctors have asked me to talk to other patient because they said that your attitude is just (so positive)....... Considering the percentage of surviving is so little. I just did not let it bother me and that is who I am. I just stay on the positive side of the attitude. I really believed that 90% of the cure is attitude. And if you say that you are going to beat it, it is going to happen. That's the way I think. After the first three days of the ICE treatment, my hair started to fall out. My daughter used a razor to cut it and she gave me a mohawk, just making fun of everything else. About a week or two, my mustache was all gone. I just tell my boss I am leaving early to the hospital, you live for the day and do what you want to do today because tomorrow is not a given.

Effect on Family

The second time it was kind of worse. Going through all those treatment and having my son not be able to come back all the time, I know it was hard for him. And my mom was still living, and that was really bad because she had already lost one son. It was like a nightmare. So I did it a lot by myself, even when I was sick. I kept it from everybody. I was cooking dinner and I would not eat. I don't think they’ll ever know how severe it was.