Cancer survivor has inspirational wisdom for all


The rose garden at the City of Hope National Medical Center is a special place for four-time cancer survivor Kyle Garlett. It's where he married the love of his life eight years ago.

"She joined up when life was uncertain and now that I'm healthy and strong, it's just wonderful to get to celebrate that with her every day," said Kyle.

At 18, Kyle was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It came back twice. Then came a battle with leukemia most patients in his situation don't survive.

But Kyle beat it all with a bone marrow transplant and several rounds of chemotherapy. That treatment destroyed Kyle's shoulder, hip and heart. The result: two joint replacements and a heart transplant.

As he chronicles in his book "Heart of Iron," he exhausted every treatment option in order to stay alive.

"Trying to live as long as you can is worth it," said Kyle.

Many of the new cancer drugs being developed only extend a patient's life by a few months. Some people may ask what good that is, but experts say incremental advances can up and eventually can add years to a patient's life.

"With the next drug maybe that will ultimately lead to the cure of that patient's cancer," said City of Hope's Dr. Anthony Stein.

Dr. Stein is talking about therapies such as Zytiga for prostate cancer. Studies show it lengthens survival by five months.

"It's hope," said Kyle. "It may be hope in small dosages, but you line enough of those up and all of the sudden you've got extra years to your life.

"Your choices are sink or swim. I mean those are really your only two choices and I always have chosen to swim," said Kyle.

Kyle swims, bikes and runs. Since his heart transplant he's competed in two Ironman races and is going for a third in Arizona. He makes a career of motivating others. His message: We're all stronger than we think.

"We stop ourselves by limited expectations, and I think if we would just push ourselves forward, we realize that 'Wow, we are capable of a whole lot of cool stuff," said Kyle.

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