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Personally invested

Image courtesy of Brad Hoyt

In U of M team, racecar driver finds comfort, expert care, and determination

Brad Hoyt fell in love with racing as a boy when his father took him to see the movie “Grand Prix.” So when he found himself the winner at the finish line of the premier Historic Grand Prix of Monaco in 2008—in a 1969 Formula One Ferrari similar to the one in the movie—he had to pinch himself.

“I called my dad from Monaco,” says Hoyt. “I said, ‘Here I am, 55 years old and a roofer from Richfield. And I’m racing in Monaco. … It doesn’t get any better than this.’”

After returning home to Minnesota, all Hoyt wanted to do was get back to Monaco and win again. But a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in April 2011 threatened that plan—and his life.

Hoyt was quick to seek treatment for his MDS, a type of cancer in which the bone marrow doesn’t make enough healthy blood cells. He promptly flew to Seattle to be seen by the doctors he believed were “the best in the country.” To Hoyt’s surprise, those physicians suggested he return home and be treated by Erica Warlick, M.D., a hematologist/oncologist with the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. “I remember she said to me at our very first meeting, ‘We’ve got to cure you. Those children need a father,’” recalls Hoyt, a father of four. “I knew that she was going to take care of me like I was her own dad.”

Image courtesy of Brad Hoyt

Warlick and the rest of Hoyt’s care team took quick action, too. He started treatments 10 days after his diagnosis, and on July 19, 2011, he underwent the blood and marrow transplant at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview that he credits with saving his life.

Hoyt recognizes that many years of research are behind the transplant he received and that much of that work happened at the University.

As a way of showing his gratitude, in 2012 Hoyt made a gift commitment to create the Hoyt Fund for MDS Research, supporting the work of Warlick and Masonic Cancer Center colleague Julie Ross, Ph.D. Today Ross is leading the world’s most comprehensive study of MDS. The team aims to uncover the causes of MDS as well as find better ways of diagnosing, managing, and treating it.

It’s the combination of investigators—lab scientists, clinicians, and epidemiologists—that makes the Masonic Cancer Center’s research stand out, Warlick says.“All of these components working together help us to better understand the disease biology and then help better understand how to develop therapies so we can treat the patient,” she says. “And that’s the most important thing—treating the patient.”

This sensibility was clearly evident to Hoyt throughout his treatment and recovery. He says that Warlick’s and Ross’ determination inspired his support. “They’re just really emotionally and personally invested in finding a cure,” he says. “I know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the research and the dedication these people have.”

He wouldn’t have been able to return to Monaco in 2012 and win again, either.

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