Leukemia Patient on Mission to Complete Pushup for Each Person with CLL

Nathan Tirey on-track to complete 176,200 pushups while in clinical trial to treat CLL

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Nathan Tirey is one of the 176,200 people diagnosed with blood cancer each year in the U.S. Last year, he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic lymphoma, the most common cancer among adults, but he’s not letting the disease slow him down. While participating in a clinical trial at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC–James), he is committed to completing one pushup to honor each person diagnosed with blood cancer in 2020, an average of 484 push-ups each day. 

“The goal is to bring awareness to blood cancer, and the number of pushups really drives home just how many people are affected,” said Tirey. “I have cancer, but I’m not going to let that change who I am. I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and fight it every day, and the push-ups are symbolic of that.”

Nathan records his daily pushup sessions and uploads the videos to his YouTube channel, Pushing Through Cancer. He says there are days, especially those after treatment, that are harder than others, but that’s what makes his videos so impactful.

“This isn’t something where I’m splicing together a bunch of clips. It is one continuous video because I want it to be authentic and show the real struggle of cancer treatment,” said Tirey. “Hopefully others can use this to fuel their own fire because I truly believe exercise will always make you feel better, even on days when it’s hard.” 

The clinical trial that Nathan is participating in pairs Ibrutinib, a targeted therapy for CLL developed at OSUCCC–James, with another drug that researchers hope will allow patients to eventually stop taking the medication.

“We’ve shown in previous studies that Ibrtinib is very effective, but taking it indefinitely to control CLL is very expensive and can have uncomfortable side effects,” said Dr. Jennifer Woyach, an oncologist at OSUCCC–James who is leading the clinical trial. “It’s amazing to be able to tell my patients that we’re going to find something that works well for them, and it’s going to allow them to get back to their normal lives, whether that’s going to work, babysitting their grandchild or taking that vacation they’ve been planning.”

Woyach says efforts like Nathan’s not only increase awareness, but also help support new research and emerging treatment options. It’s something Nathan is extremely grateful for and is now paying it forward one push-up at a time.

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