While Merck employee Dave Hull wanted to stand up to cancer, he wasn't sure he'd ever have full mobility again after a diagnosis of sarcoma in his left sciatic nerve, which affected his ability to stand and walk.
“My treatment began with chemo and radiation followed by surgery that resulted in a complete resection of my sciatic nerve. I lost all function from the knee down and in my hamstring and other hip flexor/abductor muscles. I also lost sensation in my foot and the back of my leg up through my left buttocks," explains Dave. "After additional chemo treatments, I was finally declared cancer free in April 2010. My next battle was to regain use of my leg.”
Today, after years of physical therapy, Dave has regained some mobility in his leg, but continues to wear a brace from the knee down.
“I like to believe that my limp is close to imperceptible at this point- and after significant time on crutches and also using a cane to get around - I am extremely pleased with the progress I've made with my gait and mobility today.”
Which is good, because Dave has a busy life. He and his wife Denise have two pre-teen children, James and Kate, and a golden retriever, Ginger, and Dave's on the go for most of the day. “I get up early, meditate and go to the gym before heading into the office. But, after work and weekends are all about family time,” said Dave.
Dave’s inspiring journey with cancer will be featured in the Stand Up to Cancer telecast airing nationally on September 7th. The telecast raises money for SU2C's innovative cancer research programs to get new effective treatments to patients faster.
Merck is the Founding Collaborator supporting SU2C Catalyst, a program that uses funding and materials from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic and medical devices industries to accelerate research on cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Four SU2C Catalyst clinical trial teams focused on sarcoma and ovarian, pancreatic and non-small cell lung cancers are supported by Merck.
Dave was able to continue working while receiving his treatments, thanks in large part, to the support of Merck and his colleagues.
"My family and I had an amazing experience with my Merck colleagues throughout my diagnosis and treatment. Sean Bauer, who is now my manager, organized a 'ride schedule' where different members of the team would drive me to and from my chemotherapy infusions. He also organized a meal donation and housecleaning schedule which really helped," recalls Dave. "My kids were 1 and 3 when I was diagnosed - so my wife really had her hands full! I don't know how we would have done it without my colleagues' support."
Being able to work throughout his treatments was tremendously positive for Dave mentally. "It helped me feel 'normal' and kept my mind engaged and focused on something other than my diagnosis and treatment. I could bring work to my chemo infusions and was still a very productive employee throughout it all. That was a huge boost to my psyche."
Dave often meets with other people who have loved ones dealing with a cancer. "I try to support them as much as I can because I know what a difference it can make in this daily fight."
Dave is now training for a 3 mile open water swim in Baltimore thanks to Merck’s partnership with Swim Across America, a charitable organization dedicated to raising funds for cancer research and clinical trials. "I swim 2-3 days per week and lift twice per week, and it feels good to be back in the pool. I swam competitively in high school but have not been swimming regularly since then - and while the loss of function in my leg still affects my stroke - I have figured out how to make it work."
Dave has been cancer-free for more than 8 years and is making every day count by being fully committed to his family, work and community activities.
“I am swimming to honor those who have fought and lost much more than I have – and to encourage those who continue their battles.”