When Deputy Sheriff Charlie Lamb walks into the room, it’s hard not to notice. It isn’t because of the 6-foot-7-inch deputy’s unusual height, but because of his infectious smile. Deputy Lamb has a reason to smile these days. After fighting cancer for nine months, he is back on the streets once again doing what he loves: fighting crime.
“It feels good to be back,” Lamb said. “The normalcy of getting up and putting on your boots, doing your job, it feels good.”
Life has been anything but normal for Lamb this last year, following a doctor’s appointment in March of 2017.
“I was having some back problems, just pain,” Lamb said. “I went in to the doctor, told him I had some back problems. They did a scan, came back and told me I had a pretty serious case of cancer.”
Doctors diagnosed Lamb with Stage Four Lymphoma, the cancer spreading throughout his body. His chances of survival a mere 30 percent.
“I don’t know if I ever really took a second to evaluate is this going to work out or not,” Lamb said. “I expected to get better. Even after the doctor said 30 percent.”
Doctors immediately started Lamb on chemotherapy, but that treatment proved unsuccessful. Despite the setback, Lamb says he was able to stay upbeat with the support of family and the community.
“A lot of my friends constantly kept me up, my family, my extended family and immediate family were all very positive,” Lamb said.
Doctors next turned to a bone marrow transplant and another round of chemotherapy, landing Lamb in the hospital for almost a month in September. As the bills began adding up, the community stepped in to support the Lamb family. Donations started pouring in on a Go Fund Me set up to help cover treatment and travel costs. Friends also organized community fundraisers to foot the bills.
“In high school they have you write your own obituary. It kind of reminded me of that; on a realistic level, how did I live my life?” Lamb said. “It reaffirmed for me that, it seemed like, I must have done something right in how I do my job and how I treat people because of such of an outstanding show of concern and support that people gave. It was very uplifting.”
However, Lamb received more discouraging news in October. The bone marrow transplant was only a “partial success.” Doctors, detecting remnants of cancer still in his body, told Lamb he would need to consider clinical trials for gene therapy.
“That’s when I started to get a little bit concerned,” Lamb said. “Now you’re talking about clinical trials that are a little more unknown because it’s all a new kind of medicine.”
Determined to beat cancer, Lamb agreed to undergo the clinical trial and signed up as patient number three to test a brand new treatment. Lamb now faced the unknown. The treatment didn’t have a great track record as patient number one died and patient number two was suffering seizures as a side effect.
“It wasn’t sounding all that positive,” Lamb said.
The day before Thanksgiving Lamb did one more scan to confirm his eligibility for the program.
“I was driving home with my wife mid-afternoon, Doctor Meyers calls and says ‘Hey, we can’t have you do the clinical study,’” Lamb said. “I was thinking they must have found cancer in my brain or spine. He said, ‘no, no, you don’t understand. We can’t find any cancer.’”
The doctor explained that Lamb’s transplant and chemo were successful; it just took a little while longer than usual to clear the cancer from his body. Lamb was officially in remission.
“There are more people than I can say thank you to that supported me with good wishes, financial donations, cards, just so many people,” Lamb said. “It was a humbling event.”
While he still has to do regular scans to ensure the cancer hasn’t come back, Lamb was given the all clear to return to work. Today he’s back at the Sheriff’s Office, once again fighting crime.