Sixteen months after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer, Dr. Michael Wood continues to attack his disease with wellness. In addition to surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and strong family support, the 61-year-old Cincinnati otolaryngologist has worked hard to provide his own adjunctive therapy: a plant-based diet, engagement at work and rigorous exercise.
Thus far, he is holding the formidable foe known as glioblastoma multiforme at bay. On April 6 he finished 12th in his age division in the Life Time South Beach triathlon in Miami, then returned home to Cincinnati to news of a perfect MRI. His doctors at the Brain Tumor Center at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute describe his progress with a single word: “Spectacular.”
Always an athlete – he has biked 150,000 miles during his lifetime — Dr. Mike has barely stopped moving since his diagnosis in December of 2012.
In March, as he prepared for his last dose of chemotherapy, he knew that “the smartest thing to do was to go to Florida and do a triathlon and refuse to back off ever.”
Not even “neurosurgery times two and radiation and chemotherapy” can displace the personality of an athlete, Dr. Mike says. “Somehow, if everything goes well, athletes can find a new place to compete. We don’t care where it is, we just want to have that moment. My wife, Sally, and I refused to accept any of the punishment I was getting, and that’s just the way we live.”
Dr. Mike and Sally trained indoors and outdoors all winter and then headed to Miami. They stayed with a friend, Claudia Kotchka, who was so inspired by Dr. Mike that she decided to enter her first triathlon ever. The event involved a half-mile ocean swim, a 20-mile bike ride and a 4-mile run. The bike ride included eight bridge climbs over causeways, and the run finished with a quarter-mile trudge through sand.
“I had a great time,” Mike adds. “I was miffed because wife passed me, but that’s how athletes get, and I celebrated her.”
Returning home, the Woods received news from Rekha Chaudhary, MD, a neuro-oncologist with the UC Brain Tumor Center, of an MRI clear of any evidence of glioblastoma.
“The report is spectacular, a milestone in the hopeful continuation of Mike’s journey,” says John M. Tew, MD, one of Mike’s neurosurgeons at the UC Brain Tumor Center.
Although Dr. Wood retired following his diagnosis from his position as Director of the Department of Otolaryngology at The Christ Hospital, he continues to work in administration. And on April 12 the hospital honored him with a portrait for his 25 years of service in that position.
— Cindy Starr
Disclaimer – This story describes an individual patient’s experience. Because every person is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Outcomes are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.