A Note From Chris Hessler

Chris wanted to share this with the class:

I write this short tribute to my many Dartmouth pals who supported me with unending affection while I battled a bad brain lymphoma. In August of 2009 I started losing my balance and generally feeling awful. By October 2009 I had lost 46 lbs and was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer called central nervous system lymphoma. I was given 3 to 30 days to live without treatment.

To make a very long story manageable for this column, I underwent 28 rounds of chemo and an autologous stem cell transplant. This involved about 150 nights at MGH between October 2009 and November 2010. All this and I am blessed with a great outcome – I am now cancer free and was recently given a 95% chance of cure – it goes to 100% in October 2012!

My Dartmouth friends were unbelievable during this adventure. My Butterfield freshman contingency of Bill Worden, Jonathan Kelly, Chris Roche, and Tom Theriault all played important roles. Bill spent three chemos at my side, sleeping in the lousy blue chair in my room. Jonathon and his lovely wife Meg basically took me in for a year, giving me a room in their home near MGH. Chris Roche, who I lived next door to freshman year and hadn’t seen in 20 years – made three trips to Boston to see me. The nurses at MGH still talk about Bill, Jonathon, Chris and me with pizza and beers in the family visiting room during chemo #6. Tom Theriault, a microbiologist who works on cancer drugs, weighed in on my therapy. Pammie and David Hallagan visited me countless times at the hospital. Mimi Reilly brought a missed reunion to life with stories and Dartmouth schwag. Jeff Schwartz ’87 and Mike Krupka ’87 showered me with visits, books, emails and calls and kept the Bain Capital family posted on my progress (and sometimes non-progress). Dave Ellis ’83 and Tien Wong ’84 and Mike Collette ’84 visited me numerous times and talked to me regularly. Kathy Zug ’84 weighed in as a dermatologist, especially when the chemo brought on bouts of itching. Brett Matthews ’88 came to see me from CA. Steve Baggott ’83 was in touch regularly.

All I can say is, those Dartmouth bonds are tight. It was a combination of modern science (guided by an amazing oncologist, Fred Hochberg), determination, an amazing wife, and family and friend support that got me through this. At Dr. Hochberg’s urging I’ve joined the Board of the MGH Cancer Center and speak regularly with patients. I’d like to return the support and affection my Dartmouth friends gave me – if you or anyone you know needs a cancer pep talk, or an introduction at the MGH Cancer Center … reach out to me. In the meantime – Live strong! Live large! Live long! Chris Hessler ’85, Jackson WY. If I can help anyone, I’m at chessler (at) linkwellhealth.com.

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