Gary Jobson's Story
Gary Jobson is a world-class sailor, television commentator and author based in Annapolis, Maryland. Over the course of his 35-year career, he has led ambitious expeditions to the Arctic, Antarctica and Cape Horn, won practically every sailing award there is, been inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, given countless speeches, served as ESPN's long-time sailing commentator, won an Emmy for his coverage of yachting at the Olympics in South Korea, and will cover the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
None of his accomplishments, however, quite prepared him for the biggest challenge of his life. In 2003 he was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer known as Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"I was on a speaking tour in April of 2003, and developed an annoying cough that I couldn't seem to shake, along with blotches on my skin. I was feeling unusually fatigued and started having night sweats. I pressed on with the tour, seeing four different doctors in the U.S. and New Zealand. Finally, during a presentation in Cleveland one day, I just crumpled. That's when I knew it was time to go home and find out what was happening to me."
Jobson saw Dr. Glenn Robbins at Baltimore Washington Medical Center near his home in Annapolis, and had a series of tests. One test led to another, until he had the final diagnosis: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The news came as a total shock.
"I found it quite ironic, since I had been heading up a charity regatta for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since 1994. The Leukemia Cup had always just been a way to do some good for a worthwhile cause and get the sailing community involved. I had no personal connection to blood cancer and never dreamed that, 10 years later, I'd be one of those benefiting from the funds we had been raising all those years," he says.
Two rounds of chemotherapy failed to get his condition under control, and it became clear that more aggressive treatment would be necessary. He would need a peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT) to launch a full-scale attack on the cancer that was ravaging his system. For this he sought out Aaron Rapoport, M.D., a specialist in the Hematologic Malignancies Program at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Now four and a half years after his transplant, Jobson is cancer-free and back to his rigorous schedule of sailboat racing, lecture tours, personal appearances, broadcasting, and lending his support to a wide variety of worthwhile causes. The cancer experience has given him a new perspective on what is truly important, and what to let go. “I don't let myself get stressed out about little things anymore," he says. He is very mindful when it comes to his health, and has regular follow-up visits with Dr. Rapoport.
Being on the receiving end of the some of the innovative therapies that his fundraising efforts have made possible over the years is a humbling experience. "During my two years of treatment, I had an opportunity to learn about Dr. Rapoport's research activities. What intrigued me was his focus on using the body's own immune system to fight cancer," Jobson says.
The experience has inspired him to look for additional ways to help. His latest effort is leading a major fundraising campaign to support Dr. Rapoport's work. "Recent advances in research helped me battle lymphoma. I'd like to do whatever I can to see this important work continue so that others can have the same positive outcome that I did," Jobson says.
For more information on the Hematologic Malignancies Program or any of the programs and services of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, please call 1-800-888-8823.
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