the torch Winter 2015, Issue 4 - Page 18

ph ysici a n profile ROBERT “BRIAN” BERRYMAN, M.D. 18 It has been 18 years since Robert “Brian” Berryman, M.D., lost his mother, Mary Frances Berryman, to a form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. At the time, he was in the middle of his training to become a cancer specialist. “I remember what it’s like to be a caregiver — a family member — of someone fighting cancer,” he said. “You hope someday, because of what you do, it will save somebody else’s mother — that you actually make an impact in your patients’ lives. I try to do this as a doctor, but there are many other ways, too.” As a hematologist/oncologist on the medical staff at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, he has a tremendous impact on the patients he cares for. And as an advocate for multiple myeloma research, and as an athlete, Dr. Berryman’s contributions have a much broader reach. In the last several years, he has run marathons in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and London to benefit the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), which helps to develop treatments for myeloma patients that will extend their lives, and hopefully one day cure the disease. Dr. Berryman’s latest fundraising adventure will take him to the highest freestanding mountain in the world: Mount Kilimanjaro. He’s the only M.D. among a group of 16 hikers, who have each agreed to raise at least $10,000 for the MMRF. As the hikers make the trek over several days, they pair up and sleep in tents. Dr. Berryman’s tent mate will be Charles “Chuck” Wakefield, D.D.S., who recently retired after 20 years as the Director of the Advanced Education in the General Dentistry Residency Program at the Baylor College of Dentistry. Dr. Wakefield was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2003 and has been a patient of Dr. Berryman’s ever since. “I’ve seen him for every month for the last 12 years of my life,” Dr. Wakefield says of Dr. Berryman. “I knew him first as my doctor, then as a colleague and now we’re good friends.” Multiple myeloma and its therapies can cause lesions in bones including the jaw. Many times, it is a patient’s dentist who discovers these lesions. Dr. Berryman and Dr. Wakefield have participated in fundraising events together for multiple myeloma research before, and both have met their fundraising minimum for the Mount Kilimanjaro trip. A team will record the trip for a documentary about the blood cancer, which has received more recognition recently since Tom Brokaw, former NBC Nightly News anchor, announced that he was diagnosed with myeloma in 2013. Both Brokaw and Dr. Wakefield are currently in remission. What advancements have been made in multiple myeloma? Treatments have significantly improved over the last two decades, prolonging and improving the lives of those with myeloma. This is largely due to myeloma research foundations and fundraising events. That’s why for me it’s a win-win deal. It’s obviously an amazing opportunity, and it’s raising money for something that really matters. We’ve been waiting anxiously for a new type of targeted therapy for myeloma. My patient was one of the first patients to receive it yesterday in clinic. It was quite an ex