By Bob Viti
Thurmont resident Bob Viti is a husband, father, competitive triathlete, high school educator and soccer coach. Bob was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2007, had a stem cell transplant in March 2008, and is now on maintenance therapy. He is in complete remission and back to the active lifestyle he enjoys. Bob and friends work to raise awareness for cancer research by Bob’s doctor, Ashraf Badros, MD, a member of the Hematologic Malignancies Program at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.
My survivor story started Aug. 6, 2007, when I was informed by my family physician I may have a blood-based cancer.
Prior to this, my symptoms began shortly after I took a fall while coaching soccer. Thinking I was just dealing with a sore back, five days later I completed an Olympic distance triathlon in Columbia, MD, and a half iron man triathlon (Eagleman) three weeks later in Cambridge, MD. As the summer progressed the pain in my body continued to intensify to the point where I was sent for the blood work I learned of on Aug. 6.
On Aug. 7, 2007, a friend and I met an oncologist in Frederick, MD, who told us that with the data we had shared, he would bet his house that I had multiple myeloma, which has no cure. On Aug. 14, 2007, my friend and I traveled to The University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore to meet with Dr. Ashraf Badros.
He confirmed my diagnosis and I decided to follow his treatment plan, which called for a combination of Dexamethasone and Revimid. In October, we traveled to Boston to get a second opinion at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Having gathered data, opinion and hope from them, I decided to continue with the protocol that I had already started with Dr. Badros. By December 2007, my cancer numbers had dropped drastically to the point that I was very near, if not in, a complete remission.
With that, we started preparation for a stem cell bone marrow transplant, which I had on March 31, 2008. Thirteen days later, I was released to go home to continue my recovery and was given permission to attend the 2008 Columbia Triathlon as a spectator. I am happy to report that I was a participant in the 2009 and 2010 Columbia Triathlons. I currently train between six to 13 hours per week, and have not done any events due to other demands., which include helping to care for my father who suffered a major subdural hematoma last August and grieving the accidental death of my oldest son.
Despite these adversities that my family and I are living through, we have been blessed with an incredible amount of love and support. We try our best to find the positives that are there if we look for them, and have learned first hand the healing power that comes from giving forward.