Thrive by IU Health

August 09, 2021

It takes a village

IU Health White Memorial Hospital

It takes a village

Team. It’s an IU Health value that rings true for one team member and her family as they face a life changing disease.

Missy Maxson is a pharmacy technician at IU Health White Memorial Hospital and has worked at the hospital for 24 years. On October 31, 2013, her husband Bruce was diagnosed with small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), a cancer of the immune system. It affects infection-fighting white blood cells called B-cells.

SLL is one type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cancer cells are mainly in the lymph nodes. The main symptom of SLL is painless swelling in the neck, armpit, and groin. It’s caused by cancer cells building up inside the lymph nodes. Doctors diagnose SLL by taking a biopsy of an enlarged lymph node.

Bruce Maxson

As Maxson went through his four rounds of chemo and its draining effects, he maintained his responsibilities at work and as a husband and a father. Following his treatments, he was told the cancer was in remission. During a routine visit, in October of 2014, his oncologist suggested Maxson meet with a transplant physician at IU Health University Hospital just for base line measurements. The transplant team discussed the possibility of future treatments when the time comes.

Maxson then went back to work and back to life.

In 2019, he opened his own company, Maxson Construction, after working in the industry for over 20 years. His business was growing and he was spending his weekends on the lake or watching his son, Bryce race micros sprints.

Life was going well until he contracted COVID in November 2020. By January, he began to have severe pain in his feet, numbness in his dominant hand and enlarged lymph nodes throughout his body.

“You have a window of time to figure out what is going on. What are we looking at? The internet is not always your friend,” commented Bruce Maxson. “We made sure this cancer is not a hereditary disease, which means I will not hand it down to my son.”

The cancer had resurfaced. And, this time diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or CLL, essentially the same cancer as before, but in a new location. Through multiple emergency room and oncology visits, a plan of care was created that would not only include chemo but a stem cell transplant, which meant a return to the team at IU Health University Hospital.

“It was at this time that we became involved with Be The Match registry,” explained Missy Maxson. “Family was tested first but no one was a close enough match. We were told it could take two to three months for a match. It only took three weeks to find 2 matches that were 100%.”

Maxson’s transplant was done on June 3 at IU Health University Hospital. He was discharged from the hospital on June 16 but was asked to stay close incase of potential complications. That meant a hotel stay. Missy Maxson was thankful for the Procare team at IU Health and cannot say enough good things about the Candlewood Suites. The Maxsons had a two bedroom suite which allowed Bruce to walk around more and even enjoy the outdoors. The Maxsons were allowed to return home to Monticello on June 23.

“The worst part about the transplant was being away from home for so long. Due to visitor restrictions, I was unable to see my son for almost a month,” shared Bruce Maxson.

On June 30, Maxson’s numbers all looked great. In time the transplant should help Maxson into remission and a return to a somewhat normal life. He currently spends his days and various appointments and receiving transfusions at IU Health White Memorial which helps with the healing process. Maxson still suffers from neuropathy in his feet and right hand. “My legs don’t work like they should, so I wear braces,” explained Maxson. Next up will be physical therapy.

braces

With his health challenges, Maxson has not been able to work since March 26.Missy Maxson had to take time off to be with her husband during the transplant and healing process. That is where family and the team of IU Health White Memorial come in. Bruce Maxson’s mother Jacque was the food and nutrition manager for 34 years at the hospital. To the team at White Memorial, this was personal. This was a family member. Fundraisers were organized to help the family - a basket raffle, t-shirt sales, a golf tournament and a hog raffle. A Facebook page, Building Hope for Bruce, was created to keep everyone updated on Bruce’s progress.

“You cannot do this on your own. There are so many good people out there, amazing people who are willing to help us. It’s unreal and unbelievable at times. Thank you to everyone,” exclaimed Missy Maxson.

The Maxson family is giving back by asking their community to join the Be the Match registry. “Someone donated to help save Bruce’s life. It is the least we can do to help the next person in need of a transplant,” shared Missy Maxson.

The Be the Match Registry Drive will be held on Saturday, September 18 from 9 am – 1 pm at the IU Health White Memorial Medical Office entrance. Register at https://my.bethematch.org/Hope4Bruce or text Hope4Bruce to 61474.

This time next year, the Maxsons hope to be out on the lake or back to the track watching their son race micro sprints. Maxson would like to go back to work but is not sure he will be able to do construction again depending on the mobility of his dominant hand. Perhaps he could do some estimating work. Time will tell.

Bruce Maxson’s motto is, “Take each day and hope for the best. Some days are better than others.”

Be the Match for Bruce

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