Hal’s Front Row Experience: UFC 217
Illness: T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a NUP 1 mutated cell
Date: November 4, 2017
Meet Hal Elrod
Hal Elrod is first and foremost a family man, married 10 years to his soul mate, Ursula. They have a daughter, Sophie and a son, Halsten. Hal loves family time, movies, boating, working, UFC, traveling the world and spending time with his family and closest friends. Hal is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, movie producer and entrepreneur. Hal is recognized for his spikey hair and vivacious smile, being kind, loving, funny, extremely positive and very generous.
Hal was tentatively diagnosed with Leukemia in early November of 2016 and the doctors at Saint David’s Medical Center in Austin Texas where Hal lives were draining fluid from Hal’s lungs and said he would only live 3-4 weeks without immediate treatment for the cancer. Doctors recommended that he be transferred to MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDA) in Houston Texas for diagnoses and treatment as soon as possible.
Hal and his dad packed their suitcases and starting at St. David’s and drove the 190 mile journey to Houston on election night, 2016. We met with the chief oncologist in the morning and initial tests that day confirmed a Leukemia diagnoses and Hal was admitted to MDA Cancer Center for more testing. We spent the night in Hal’s hospital room at the mega Cancer Center getting settled and being taken for CAT Scans, MRI’s and Sonograms of Hal’s vital organs. Two days later, we met with a team of doctors and given the news that Hal had a rare cancer called; T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a NUP 1 mutated cell and with an aggressive Chemotherapy treatment, Hal had a 40%-60% chance of surviving this life threatening disease. We were all shocked! Hal lived a very healthy lifestyle and was very fit…
The next day, a team of cardiologists came into Hal’s room to discuss his heart test results. The cardiologist said that Hal had 3 of 5 markers for a massive heart attack and recommended immediate heart surgery. They explained the risks and within two hours, Hal was in an operating room undergoing surgery to place a drain in the sack of his heart. They drained 25 pounds of fluid from Hal’s heart and lungs over a two-week period and his lymphatic system started working again after the initial Chemotherapy treatments.
Hal is no stranger to life’s challenges and in December of 1999, he was struck head on at 80mph by a drunk driver traveling the wrong direction on Highway 99 in Northern California and a family of three hit his door, crushing his compartment and causing life threatening injuries and he was not expected to live through the night. Hal spent the next year recovering and defied doctor’s predictions and made a full recovery and started helping others referencing his own experiences. Hal used the tools that he had developed during the accident to navigate through his cancer journey and set the tone for a positive recovery with as much naturopathic medicine possible.
Hal’s 170-pound stature melted away to 127 pounds and the monthly 5-day round the clock Chemotherapy treatments brought him to the brink of death on several occasions due to multiple life threatening infections. Throughout the journey, we were all scared, but Hal remained positive and focused on his health, healing, Ursula and the kids and beating the cancer so that he can be there for his family. Hal’s family and friends rallied with their support, and his staff and colleagues ran his business during his treatments in Houston and we’re forever grateful to everyone!
Hal completed his final hospital treatment in November of 2017 and started a 3-year maintenance plan to stay in remission. Recent tests show him to be in remission and Hal’s oncologist has updated his odds for survival to 80%. ☺
Time to Celebrate!
Hal is a passionate Front Row supporter and an equally passionate UFC fan and Jon Vroman surprised Hal with an offer to have a Front Row UFC Experience in none other than Madison Square Garden in New York City. In early November, Hal, Ursula, Sophie, Halsten; Hal’s Mom, Dad and several of his closest friends all gathered in New York City to celebrate Hal!
We all arrived in New York City and a car was waiting for Hal and his family and we all met at The Muse hotel in Times Square. That evening we walked through Times Square and just took in all of the lights and activities as we made our way to Madison Square Garden. Everyone was excited and it was amazing to see Hal having a “normal” evening and enjoying the moment and being with everyone. The Madison Square Garden kiosk lit up with “UFC 217, George St Pierre vs Michael Bisping” and Hal was excited!
Upon entering the arena, we were greeted by a UFC official that had VIP passes and identification badges and off we went to a VIP lounge, mingling with UFC fighters and their families. Hal was taking it all in, talking with friends, fighters and taking pictures. The fights were impressive and half way into the evening, Jon Vroman told Hal he wanted him to meet someone special, and off they went together with Ursula.
Hal, Jon, and Ursula were all led to the private suite of Dana White, President of the UFC, where Dana greeted Hal and asked, “You want to watch some fights?!”
A true Front Row experience, Hal sat with Dana on his black leather coach, and watched the live fights while they talked about the nuances of what made each match unique and intriguing. Hal expressed deep gratitude to Dana for the opportunity to meet him, and Hal’s sincere appreciation and in-depth knowledge of the UFC must have made quite the impression on Dana, considering what happened next.
As Hal was thanking Dana and saying goodbye, Dana responded with an incredible invitation: “Hal, I wish we could have spent more time together. Do you want to come to the next UFC event, in Las Vegas, and sit cage-side with me during the main event?”
“Are you serious?!” exclaimed Hal. “I would love that! Thank you so much, Dana!!”
Hal spent several days in New York reconnecting with family and friends while having some normalcy. We ate at some nice restaurants, explored Times Square, took the kids to the Disney and M&M stores, rode the subway to the Stanton Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, walked through Wall Street and went to Ground Zero and a favorite, riding through Central Park in a beautiful horse driven carriage! It was a thrilling trip that took everyone’s mind off of the cancer for a brief period of time and Hal created some beautiful “Front Row” memories before returning home to Austin.