Never in a million years did Owensboro's Mack White think he would be diagnosed with cancer. He was an athletic and healthy teen living his best life. It changed his life in a way he could never imagine. This is his story of courageously beating cancer and never looking back.

Photo Credit: Jess Fogle
Photo Credit: Jess Fogle

It was a special moment when Chad and Angel had Suzanne Cecil White on the St. Jude Radiothon today. She shared the inspirational story about her husband's cancer diagnosis as a teen to give hope for those facing cancer. It's a story of hope and encouragement for patients facing adversity.

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Mack was just a teen when he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in February of 1995. That was 27 years ago. He never let his cancer journey define him and today he's a husband, father, and beloved member of the community.

Suzanne shared his today in hopes of inspiring others to never give up. "If you’ve ever been through an experience where you are potentially facing your own or your immediate family members' mortality, stories of hope and success from someone who has been there and overcome are what you want to hear. You want to know that someone has beat it. We haven’t made this piece of Mack’s story his whole story, because that’s not how we (his family) have chosen to live. So, it’s not ever really talked about, unless we see someone diagnosed with the same thing. Then Mack (and his family) feel like it is valuable to share and connect with them. This life-giving story of HOPE and a future for any kid/family who is where he has been.

Mack was a thriving teen involved in sports and all the regular things. And then he couldn’t keep any food down. Everything he was eating, he was throwing back up."

His mom, Cheryle, with his cancer journey, “Our son, Mack, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in February 1995. He underwent emergency surgery two days before to remove an intestinal obstruction. The doctor came into the room and said “I have bad news and good news. The bad news is Mack has cancer and it is aggressive cancer. The good news is aggressive cancer responds to chemotherapy positively.

After more testing, the oncologist asked if we would consider Mack receiving treatment in a clinical trial. Data would be collected and analyzed from his treatments.
The doctors would study the nature of his cancer and attempt to develop improved methods of treatment.

There was a good chance that standard-dose chemotherapy would achieve remission of cancer; however, a risk would remain that the disease might recur. Once remission was achieved, treatment with high-dose chemotherapy might reduce the risk of recurrence. Many of the drugs to which lymphoma is sensitive were limited in their use because of the damage they would cause to the stem cells in the bone marrow. This includes the white blood cells that help fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body, and platelets that help prevent bleeding.

This clinical trial included removing stem cells from Mack’s body and storing them in a frozen state that would later be infused back into his veins after administering high-dose chemotherapy. This trial was designed to demonstrate the value of high-dose chemotherapy as a component of the treatment of high-grade lymphoma.

This trial treatment occurred in three cycles. The first cycle required him to receive multiple chemotherapy drugs daily for three weeks and a bone marrow growth factor to stimulate the regrowth of normal white blood cells. The second cycle of the treatment was designed to consolidate remission and encourage stem cells in the bone marrow to circulate through the bone marrow. As his bone marrow recovered new stem cells regrew. These stem cells were collected and stored. The third cycle involved large doses of multiple chemotherapy drugs, followed by the infusion of his own stem cells a couple of days later.

Mack could have gone through standard chemotherapy treatment instead. But it was hoped that this treatment and clinical trial would be of benefit to him and that it would help others.

Mack returned to a full, productive life. He currently resides in the St. Joseph area of Owensboro with his wife and two children.

Supporting St. Jude Hospital will not only be of benefit to children going through cancer treatments and their families, but your contribution will also assist in the research of new and better treatment alternatives.

And you will also receive the personal satisfaction from the knowledge that you contributed to the advancement of science.”

Suzanne grateful concluded, "It’s been 27 years ago THIS month since Mack beat his cancer. Mack and I met in 2004. I do not dwell in the past or the “what might have beens” but we must reflect in full gratitude for this, for our lives would look completely different without this story of hope and success. For someone at the time that I met him to believe what he had been told that he “would not have his own biological children” because of what he had been through. To be able to be living and thriving, free of such cancer 27 years later, with two beautiful children (and quite the wife, if I do say so myself). There are too many miracles to count in each of our lives.

THIS IS WHY WE GIVE TODAY! We want research and trial treatments to continue saving lives. We want to give every family hearing this devastating diagnosis to see that there is HOPE for them too. Will you join us today?"

To become a St. Jude Partner-in-Hope, it's $19 per month on a credit/debit card. The number to call is 1-800-201-8883.

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