Navy veteran overcomes leukemia with assist of his start mom


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Retired US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bren Doreck has fought his justifiable share of battles. However there’s one battle he by no means noticed coming—most cancers. At solely 39 years previous, he was recognized with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) whereas combating for his nation abroad.

All of the sudden, Bren discovered himself in a battle for his life. It’s solely by way of his unwavering energy, the selfless sacrifice of his start mom and the experience of his care crew that he tells his story in the present day.

A whirlwind prognosis

When he first began to get the sensation that one thing was “off,” Bren was deployed in Afghanistan with the US Navy in 2011. He began getting a number of nosebleeds right here and there, which was a brand new prevalence for him. He and the Navy docs chalked it as much as the dry local weather, and he carried on.

Quick ahead to Easter 2012 and Bren began feeling extra drained than traditional. Mildly involved, he went to the clinic on base to get checked out. There, they examined his oxygen ranges with an oximeter and the studying was so low, the physician thought the oximeter was damaged. Bren’s oxygen uptake was solely 83%—an indication that one thing was severely mistaken.

At a hospital in Afghanistan, docs ran a number of exams and carried out a CT scan of his stomach. To everybody’s shock, Bren’s spleen was the dimensions of a watermelon. His white blood cell rely was so excessive, the gear couldn’t get an correct studying.

There in Afghanistan, the world over from his household and the comforts of dwelling, Bren was recognized with leukemia.


“It was a shock,” he stated. “At the time, I was kind of out of it. It was one of those things that I had to come to grips with. I can’t do this with just me. I can’t fix this with a pill or a shot. I can’t fix this myself.”

However Bren has by no means been one to again down from a struggle.

A mom’s lifesaving reward

The Navy instantly made strikes to get Bren again dwelling to the States to begin remedy at Walter Reed Nationwide Navy Medical Heart in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition they flew his spouse, Kim, up on army orders so she may very well be with him.

“My wife was my advocate and caregiver,” Bren stated. “We’re a Christian family. I was worried but I just said to God, ‘whatever you want is going to happen and I trust you.’”

The subsequent step was to get again dwelling to Texas to proceed remedy. That’s the place Bren and Kim related with Brian Berryman, MD, a hematologist, medical oncologist and blood and marrow transplant specialist with Texas Oncology on the medical employees at Baylor University Medical Center.

Dr. Berryman shortly grew to become not simply Bren’s physician and information all through his most cancers journey, however his pal.

“I don’t think I could have had a better doctor,” Bren stated. “He had a whole plan laid out. He looks at the whole patient and he wants to know how you’re doing. He’s been a great friend.”

After confirming his leukemia prognosis, Dr. Berryman positioned Bren on focused therapies. Sadly, his leukemia progressed into one other hematolymphoid malignancy referred to as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

“I can’t remember how many drugs we tried or even the names of them. None of them really worked,” he stated.

At that time, Dr. Berryman stated it was time to look right into a stem cell transplant. Bren wanted to discover a donor, however there wasn’t a great match for him by way of the Nationwide Marrow Donor Program. His half-siblings weren’t excellent matches both.

Bren, who's adopted, turned to his start mom for assist. In July 2013, she was in a position to save Bren’s life, donating loads of stem cells by way of a profitable haploidentical (haplo) transplant.

Greater than eight years later, Bren is grateful for his second probability at life and for his start mom’s selfless reward.

“In reality, she gave me life two times,” he stated. “First when I was born and again when she agreed to donate her stem cells to save my life.”

A second probability at life

Because the transplant, Bren has lived a full, wholesome life. He ran the Fort Value Half Marathon simply two years later. He additionally climbed Financial institution of America tower in help of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

However what he’s cherished probably the most over the previous close to decade is extra time together with his spouse and two youngsters.

Bren watched his son graduate from highschool, loved tenting journeys together with his household, walked his daughter down the aisle and celebrated many extra anniversaries with Kim. He stated he doesn’t take these moments as a right.

He shares his story in the present day to encourage different individuals and households whose lives have been altered by most cancers.

“I like telling people my story because a lot of times you hear doom and gloom when people talk about cancer treatment,” he stated. “But even though my experience had its challenges, every battle was worth it. Now, I get up every morning, and my wife still has to put up with me.”

Study extra about our bone marrow transplant program or find cancer support near you.


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