• Leon Horn Cancer Survivor: Leon Horn

“Having cancer makes you realize how quick life can go from you.”

Leon Horn was just going for a routine physical examination that included a blood test. He certainly wasn’t expecting to hear that his white blood cell count was extremely low. That’s what the test showed, however, so his doctor sent him to Fort Wayne Medical Oncology and Hematology. There, Leon underwent a bone marrow biopsy, which showed that he had acute myeloid leukemia, a fast-growing, aggressive type of cancer. “It’s a shock when you first hear the word ‘cancer,’” Leon says.

His FWMOH oncologist explained the options and didn’t mince words. “He told me that normal treatments were only 10 percent effective at best, and that there was no good treatment,” Leon says. “Hearing the truth from the doctor was important. I think his honesty helped me. I didn’t have to try to interpret what he was saying.” His doctor said he would do additional research and check with other oncologists. Soon, Leon was being offered participation in a new clinical trial.

“There was a clinical trial just starting for my type of cancer through Ohio State University’s cancer center,” Leon explains. “I said yes, and they put me right in Lutheran Hospital, where I stayed for just short of a month. They gave me all the treatments that went along with the trial, and at the end, I was in remission but had to continue chemo for two months after I got out of the hospital. I also had to take a research drug for another year. My blood counts were tested every month for the next year, and after that year, the blood tests were every three months, which is the schedule that I’m still on.”

With the cancer in remission for almost three years and no evidence of disease, Leon recalls all the support he received from FWMOH, citing their up-to-date knowledge, research and professionalism. “Before treatment, we asked a lot of questions, and they explained everything. With the critical situation I was in, they couldn’t know for sure how the trial would work. But they checked and I did, too, and it seemed like the best option.” He says the care and attention from FWMOH continued throughout the clinical trial. “In the hospital, there were a number of different doctors from FWMOH on call, so it wasn’t just my doctor that came to see me—they all did. The nurses were quite positive in treating me, too.”

In addition to the excellent care FWMOH gave him, Leon says his family was very supportive. “I think how strong my family was behind me. That’s very critical, very important. My wife and daughters and whole family did everything to help me stay positive. They came to see me every day in the hospital.” His community supported him, too. “I’m a member of a church in Warsaw. They were very helpful, giving me spiritual and mental strength. I think that mental strength is as important as the physical.” Leon reflects that he is more aware of how suddenly life can change: “You have to be extremely thankful. Having cancer makes you realize how quick life can go from you. So, you appreciate it more than before.”