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“I’m in a fight for my life,” Cancer patient takes the stage

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Sometimes, art mimics life.

Such was the case for Paul Tomlin, 62, who recently starred as the lead role in Carpenter Square Theatre's production of 37 Postcards.

Tomlin's character, Stanford Sutton, is dying of Leukemia.

"I knew I wanted to do this," Tomlin said. "I could convey the suffering of a cancer patient as well as the hopefulness of a cancer patient, a cancer patient who is willing to live."

It's a comedy, actually - a charming story about aging and family, love and cancer.

"There were times on stage I was brought to tears, especially when I talked about how I would miss my wife," Tomlin said.

Tomlin played a cancer patient, while himself battling stage four prostate cancer.

"It's in my body," Tomlin said. "I'm in a fight for my life."

Stephenson Cancer Center Urologic Oncologist Dr. Kelly Stratton specializes in prostate cancer.

"(Tomlin) had a very vibrant life," Stratton said. "He was involved in theater. He had a lot of plans that he wanted to do. It was important to him that he could continue to do those things. So, we developed a regimen for him that would allow him to continue to do the things the he likes to do and still get treatment for his cancer."

Stratton chose immunotherapy instead of chemotherapy, so Tomlin could keep that role on the stage.

"It actually takes the patients own cells, activates them against the prostate cancer and then we give those same cells back to the patient and allows their own immune system to fight the cancer," Stratton said.

So, those activated white blood cells took over, beating Tomlin's disease back into submission.

It was a happy ending for Tomlin's character on stage, and he is expecting the same off-stage.

Tomlin's cancer is under control, and there will be many more lead roles down the road.