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'Kinder Chemotherapy' for Leukemia and Cancer Treatment

  • 04.18.2015
'God works miracles through his hands'

A Profile of a Grateful Carson City couple who praises Dr. Perez for his caring approach

leukemia cancer patient

Carson City residents Bill and Dot Miller are the kind of couple who finish sentences for one another.

After 44 years together, one might assume that's a happy side effect of an enduring relationship.

And they tell each other's stories, too — as is evident when you ask Bill about his illness.

"I'm going to let my wife take over on that topic," Bill laughs. "She's my historian." 

There's good reason to have a historian, as the timeline can get complicated when you're discussing an insidious disease like leukemia. Bill was first diagnosed with what the couple calls "full-blown leukemia" in 2004.

"Our amazing doctor threw everything at him to treat him, and he eventually went into remission," Dot recalls of her first experience with Dr. Perez from Sierra Nevada Cancer Center. "They called Bill their miracle patient, because he was so sick."

In 2007, the persistent illness came back at 50 percent; more chemo and another remission followed. And now, a few years later, it's back yet again.

"But I have to tell you, I would never see another doctor," Bill says. "Dr. Perez saved my life twice, and now he's working on the third time. Both other times, I didn't think I'd make it. But he absolutely saved my life."

This round of treatment is being done with a relatively new chemotherapy drug called azacytidine (brand name: Vidaza). The drug prevents the body from making DNA and RNA that cells need to grow, which stops the growth of cancer cells and causes them to die.

The treatment calls for seven days of treatment, followed by three weeks off.

"This is a lot kinder than the nasty stuff – I don't lose my hair, I haven't had any blood transfusions, nausea is almost non-existent," Bill says. "I'm still a little queasy, but no commode-hugging nausea."

"Honey, those might not be the kind of words you want to use when talking about it," Dot lovingly advises.

"Hey, I'm retired from the Navy – the sailor in me pops out every now and again," he laughs, adding that he came to northern Nevada for work in 1988.

Bill notes that this round of chemotherapy has resulted in a dramatic improvement in his quality of life.

"I can't say it enough — yes, yes, yes, a thousand yeses. This chemo has been far easier than the last two rounds."

And the couple attributes this high quality of life to Dr. Perez — his innovation in treatment, thorough research and understanding of his patients' needs.

"The one thing I can honestly say about Dr. Perez is that God works miracles through his hands," Dot says. "He's so sweet and calm – I can't sing his praises enough. We consider him a miracle doctor."

With their improved treatment schedule and reduced side effects, they note they're able to enjoy each other's company — whether it's at church together, eating out in Carson City or visiting family, which includes three grown children and five grandchildren.

"Seriously, from the heart, I just can't say enough about him," Bill says.

"He always has time for everyone," Dot adds. "He always smiles, always has such kind words. I think I hug him too much, but that's beside the point."

Need more information about Cancer Treatment at Sierra Nevada Cancer Center? Please click here.


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