Everything started for Michael Brady in 2006 when he began to get severe migraines. After seeing a neurologist and hematologist in Hamilton, he was diagnosed with polycythemia, a type of myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN)—a blood cancer.
Over time, Michael’s disease became more high-risk, and his hematologist recommended that he seek the care of Dr. Vikas Gupta at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre—a physician and researcher who has gained international recognition for his ground-breaking work on MPNs.
As the symptoms of Michael’s disease grew more debilitating—the onslaught of regular nightly sweats, insomnia and even going up the stairs becoming a difficult task—he was officially diagnosed with myelofibrosis (a more aggressive MPN) on February 19, 2014.
Michael was 41 years old when he received this news from Dr. Gupta. He was in shock when he found out that his life expectancy was two to three years, maybe four years, with additional drug therapy.
Pursuing an intense treatment regimen to save his life
Dr. Gupta recommended an intense treatment strategy for Michael to save his life. He recommended that Michael have a stem cell transplant. “You won’t survive if you don’t have one,” said Dr. Gupta.
At the same time, Dr. Gupta suggested that Michael enroll in a new clinical trial that he is leading for Canada. The trial is exploring the potential of a drug called Ruxolitinib to reduce symptoms (e.g. spleen enlargement and night sweats) for patients undergoing a stem cell transplant for myelofibrosis . In Michael’s case, Ruxolitinib was also used in combination with a modified chemotherapy regimen.
“The night sweats went away and my spleen started to shrink – I felt like I was back to my normal self again and better prepared for the transplant.” Michael was the first Canadian patient and the third patient overall to enroll for the clinical trial.
Realizing that he was in the right place
Michael and his wife, Carolina, wanted to gain control over their situation, so they looked into a contingency plan. They wanted to know if pursuing a stem cell transplant would be quicker in the U.S. Carolina’s dad contacted three well-respected U.S cancer hospitals--some also involved in the clinical trial Dr. Gupta recommended for Michael. MPN physicians at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Mass State Hospital in Boston, and Mount Sinai in New York City all said: “You’re at one of the best hospitals in the world - don’t leave - stay where you are - you’re in good hands.”
We are very pleased to report that Michael is now in remission – with a better quality of life using this approach to treating the disease. His progress, under Dr. Gupta’s care, would not have been possible without the support The Princess Margaret received from Elizabeth and Tony Comper as they established the Elizabeth and Tony Comper MPN Program
Find out more about the Elizabeth and Tony Comper MPN Program
A word of thanks to Elizabeth and Tony Comper
“I wouldn’t be sitting here without donors like Elizabeth and Tony Comper,” says Michael. “Without funds, the MPN program can’t pay for the research that needs to happen or fund post treatment recovery that’s needed for patients.
“I’m sincerely grateful to my doctors, nurses and administrative staff who gave me the utmost care. Grateful and thankful aren’t big enough words.”
"Being at the cottage and seeing this picture makes me feel like I'm winning."