Cancer Fundraiser Honors Lakeway Area Man
3rd Annual Event Sends Money to MD Anderson in Houston
to Fund Innovative Lung and Brain Cancer Therapies
By James C. Moore
Special to the Lake Travis View
Bob Mayberry loved golf. And his children and grandchildren. His wife Diane Judah, a broad circle of friends, and living in the Texas Hill Country. After founding and growing a successful automotive business in Ohio, Mayberry found his way to Austin to enjoy the sun and a slower pace. For many years, he had everything a man might want. And then cancer found Bob Mayberry.
“Because I was his doctor, I didn’t see the more vital Bob right away,” Dr. Edward Kim said. “He was frail and had been fighting his disease for a long time. But you could tell he was a determined man and I think that’s what helped his story become fairly miraculous.”
Dr. Kim of the MD Anderson Cancer Center had been contacted by Mayberry’s wife, Diane Judah. She had watched her husband struggle with lung and brain cancer for more than a year as color faded from his skin and chemotherapy took his hair. Judah, who had refused to accept her husband’s fate, worked the phone and the Internet to make certain Mayberry had access to the latest drug protocols and treatments.
“I just thought there had to be a better way of dealing with this and giving Bob hope,” Judah said. “The chemo almost has to kill you before you can recover and Bob was not handling that well. I knew there had to be improved treatment and I was determined to find the people doing that research. It’s how I came across Dr. Kim.”
Mayberry was in a wheelchair when he first met Dr. Kim. As he had grown increasingly frail, he had lost energy and his family and friends were worried that his time was limited. Judah was hoping to get her husband enrolled in a new drug treatment being developed by Dr. Kim and his research team at M. D. Anderson. Kim had been conducting research at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston on targeted drug therapies for dealing with cancers that have high rates of mortality. His team’s work was focused on identifying biological markers that explained why some patients responded well to certain drugs but not chemotherapy and what caused those positive reactions.
“There are a lot of things we still don’t know yet about how individuals respond to various drugs,” Kim explained. “Some people respond very well to certain treatments and others simply have a minimal reaction. Our job as researchers and physicians to try to find a way to predict these responses so that we can provide better therapies and possibilities for recovery and an extension of quality of life for cancer patients.”
Mayberry had been diagnosed with metastases in his brain, which moved from his lungs. According to Dr. Kim, his odds, and those of anyone else in his condition, tended to be the same with either chemo or new drugs, unless he had an unpredictable response to the innovative therapies and, specifically, a new drug called Tarceva.
“We were realistic about Bob’s chances,” said Judah. “But we thought that being a part of a relatively small number of people being treated with Tarceva was certainly worth trying and it was. My husband and I were given much more time together with each other and our family.”
Dr. Kim’s work is currently testing “200 very precious tissue samples from a novel clinical trial” to look for biological markers to identify the characteristics in an individual that will reveal if their cancer will be best treated by a targeted drug or chemo. In Mayberry’s case, Tarceva significantly extended his life without the side effects of nausea, vomiting, lowering of blood counts, loss of hair and appetite, which tend to be standard with chemo.
Mayberry’s previous doctors had already told him to go home and prepare for the end of his life. Instead, the numerous tumors in his brain began to shrink with the new drug treatment and, eventually, they disappeared. Mayberry’s strength and energy returned and he went back to playing his regular rounds of 18 holes on his beloved Yaupon Golf Course at Lakeway.
“I remember one of the times he came in for a patient visit after getting his health back,” Dr. Kim recalled. “I was very interested in how the treatment was working but he was in a bit of a down mood, which made me worried a little until I realized he was just upset that he couldn’t putt worth a darn just then.”
Robert Mayberry’s life was extended about two and a half years by the drug Tarceva and it was a pleasant time of vitality, not agonizing months spent dealing with the complications of serious side effects. Cancer, eventually, took the Lakeway area man at age 67 in late 2007 but his fight has not ended, nor has Dr. Kim’s.
“When a physician meets a person like Bob Mayberry,” said Dr. Kim, “they are inspired to continue their work. Bob’s determination touched me deeply. His struggle reminded us of why we are pressing so hard to find answers to all cancer questions.”
Mayberry’s wife, whose tenacity introduced her husband to the work of Dr. Kim, has launched a memorial fund raiser in Mayberry’s name. Diane Judah wants to raise money for the continued research at M. D. Anderson.
“I was not only deeply in love with my husband,” Judah said, “But I was just so proud of Bob as a man, the way he lived, and even the courageous and almost noble way he died. A friend of ours said Bob ‘exited with great grace.’ I know he would love to know this work is being done in his name.”
Mayberry, who moved to Texas from Holland, Ohio when he married Judah, was a popular long time owner of a vehicle towing and repair business. Soft spoken and personable, Mayberry was a genial everyman who waved at every passing motorist and was unfailingly loyal to friends and family.
“When I was a little girl,” his daughter Pamela Solly remembered, “I used to think my dad was the king of Holland. There just didn’t seem to be anyone he didn’t know or who didn’t like him. I’m just so happy that he is being remembered and is doing something good, just like he’s always done, even though he’s gone now.”
The third annual Mayberry Memorial is being held this year on Saturday, March 27 at 6 PM at the Renaissance Austin Hotel in the Arboretum. The event, which has already raised tens of thousands of dollars for M. D. Anderson, helps pay for critical biological markers on tissue and blood samples. Details and dinner reservations are available online at www.mayberrymemorial.com
“We’re going to keep pushing and growing this event,” said Judah. “Bob wouldn’t quit anything so neither will those of us who loved him.”
| Category: Bob Mayberry Foundation |