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Travis Campbell: Treating a Patient With Patience

Publication: Austin American-Statesman, Austin

In the fall of 2013, Travis Campbell, a father of four, was coaching his son’s soccer team in their end-of-year tournament when he was asked to help load a heavy box into a pickup truck. Travis agreed to help, but as he was lifting the box he felt a slight twinge in his back followed by more severe pain the next day.

It wasn’t obvious at the time, but Travis was experiencing symptoms of multiple myeloma — a rare form of blood cancer that occurs in plasma cells and attacks the immune system while also eroding bones.

A bout of pneumonia a few months later led to CT scans that revealed multiple spine fractures. Additional tests confirmed the cancer diagnosis.

“When I received the diagnosis, I was in shock,” said Campbell. “My thoughts immediately turned to my family and their well-being. At the time, my older boys were almost 8 and 10, and the twins were nearly 2. I was ready to enroll my wife into college classes and start working on her career. It was very frightening, and we spent the next few weeks praying and trying to get some direction as to what we would need to do.”

Initially, Travis explored alternative treatments under the supportive, watchful care of his physician, Dr. Mikao Cline of Texas Oncology, with monthly check-ups and monitoring of the disease’s progression. Travis said that Dr. Cline’s patience during this time is one of the things he appreciates most.

“Dr. Cline has been patient,” said Campbell.  “I never felt like she was pressuring me. She understood I am on a journey, and she’s been supportive.”

Like Dr. Cline, Travis said the entire team at Texas Oncology has shown great compassion and understanding, which has helped make his difficult fight more bearable.

“I think that’s what it’s been with all the people at Texas Oncology,” said Campbell. “They understand that every person is different, and that a battle with cancer is just that—a battle. They’ve been supportive, and they’ve partnered with me as I’ve gone on the journey.”

For Travis, that journey is one of faith, which sustains him each day.

“For me, faith is everything,” said Campbell. “The battle you fight when you have cancer — if you’re a person of faith — is a journey you go on in faith. Believing that God is directing your steps. And a lot of what I’ve done over the last three years is really focus my efforts on trying to find the way He has for me.”

Travis, who works in Austin as a software developer at VisionWeb and pastors the upliftchurch.org in Llano, said that the journey, while challenging at times, has been a blessing.

“Through all of this, I have truly been blessed,” said Campbell. “I have remained healthy; and I am surrounded by family, friends and medical professionals who genuinely care about me.”

When Travis was ready for treatment, Dr. Cline suggested a leading-edge clinical trial that would effectively engage Travis’ own immune system in attacking the myeloma cancer cells. The trial uses a non-chemotherapy drug and could help oncologists discover a treatment approach that delivers better patient outcomes. As it was not even available when Travis was first diagnosed, the timing was perfect.

“When I told Dr. Cline that I was ready to begin treatment, she found a clinical trial that she genuinely believes is the best thing for me,” said Campbell. “I trust her, and if she believes this is the best thing for me, I know that it is.”

Along with her knowledge, patience and support, Travis said he also appreciates Dr. Cline’s effort, including driving out of her way to see him close to his home.

“Dr. Cline actually takes one day a week to drive out to the Hill Country to see her patients out here,” said Campbell. “I think that’s a really huge thing that she’s willing to make that sacrifice.”

Travis’s case is an example of Texas Oncology’s community-based care model in action. This includes a focus on making leading-edge clinical trials accessible to patients near their homes and loved ones, requiring no more travel or disruption than an afternoon shopping trip. The high quality clinical trial, one of dozens available at Texas Oncology in the Austin area, is also giving Travis the opportunity to be treated at different locations, where he says the care is top-notch.

“Now that I am on a clinical trial, I am getting to know all the staff at the Austin Midtown location,” said Campbell, who has also been treated at the Texas Oncology–Round Rock Seton Williamson and Marble Falls locations. “No matter which office I have gone to, I have met wonderful, professional people that offered me the best-in-class service. I am happy to be part of the Texas Oncology family.”

Texas Oncology’s community-based research program is helping pave the way for new breakthroughs in cancer treatment at locations in large cities, suburbs and small town across Texas. To date, Texas Oncology has contributed to nearly 70 FDA-approved cancer therapies.

As Travis continues to fight his battle, he’s doing so with hope rather than fear.

“Faith gives you hope,” said Campbell. “And hope gives you light, and that light helps you to walk. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but very seldom do I ever feel afraid. Having that faith drives away fear.”

Read the story from the Austin American-Statesman.

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