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Experimental Leukemia Drug Proves a Slam Dunk
Date:9/23/2010

l sometimes allow the use of an unapproved experimental drug. Collins got the OK to use the drug on Johnston.

When Johnston started the medication, more than 30 tumors riddled his body. Four months later, all the tumors were gone.

"He had a complete solid tumor response. To see this sort of depth of response is very unusual, and I'm very hopeful that the remission will last," Collins said.

An added bonus, Johnston said, was that the drug had very few side effects.

Johnston has been cancer-free for eight months now and is back living the life of his dreams in Dallas. While he may not be playing for the Mavericks, the Ray Johnston Band has recorded an album, Sweet Tooth, and is touring, opening for artists like Jimmy Buffet, Los Lonely Boys, The Fray and The Cure.

Blessed with boundless enthusiasm, Johnston also runs the local division of the Heroes Organization, which helps prepare high school basketball players hoping to get a college scholarship.

Besides his new medication, Johnston credits his faith, the strength of his family and friends and a positive frame of mind for helping him through the darkness of his cancer treatment.

He said his favorite proverb sums it all up: "A cheerful heart is good medicine to the soul, but a downcast spirit dries the bones."

Added Collins: "Ray is a model for how a cancer patient can live. His tenacity and strength and the way he's living life to its fullest, it's a lesson we can all take from him."

More information

To learn more about acute promyelocytic leukemia, visit the American Cancer Society.

SOURCES: Ray Johnston, Dallas; Robert Collins, M.D., professor, medicine, and director, hematological and bone marrow transplantation program, University of Texas Southwestern Medical C
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