I am proud to be on the Team BIDMC in running The Boston Marathon on April 20, 2020.
In February 2016, less than 40 days after turning 50 my primary care doctor finally convinced me to get a colonoscopy. My PCP had been recommending it to me for a few years during my annual wellness visits. I did not have any signs or symptoms of any colon disease, but none the less he wanted me to have it done as a preventative measure for my annual physical.
I will never forget this day, it was a mild winter February day, on a Thursday. I did the dreadful prep, as many people know health care providers do not make the best patients. My wife took me into our local community hospital, my colonoscopy was completed and upon returning to post op area, I asked the nurse how did I do? her reply was "the doctor will be with you shortly". At that moment I knew it will not be good news. The doctor came to the post op area, my wife at bedside, and explained the results of the colonoscopy indicates stage 3 colon cancer, with a chance of possible stage 4. Since I was in the hospital and I am already prepped, I would undergo further imaging that same day to see how far the cancer had spread.
I recall coming home that day and going over my financial commitments, my home, my business, my wife and two children, one was graduating high school and other was graduating from Bridgewater State University, in about 3 months. What would my life be?... what is the future of my family? To say there was many thoughts that went through my mind that weekend is an understatement. I went to the Radiology department and obtained my images and the reports and my quest began.
I called around a few hospitals and a good friend who recently underwent cancer treatment referred me to a hospital in Boston. I later was referred to the BIDMC, little to my own knowledge, that the BI had merged with the DMC. 26 and 22 years earlier we had our children at the BI. This time, it was not a joyous occasion, I did not know what to expect, not sure if I was going to live, really don't know what the treatment cycle would be like and what type of quality of life would I have post treatment. Since i worked in an ER setting, you always see those who are truly sick, as that is when people seek services from the ER.
I spoked to the Colorectal Department at BIDMC, the admin person was very professional, friendly and compassionate with me on the phone. He asked if I had any documentation or results that I can forward to the Nurse Practioner, and I quickly said yes, I can fax them to you now. He took down my information and I faxed the imaging reports from the colonoscopy. He also told me that someone will review them and will respond within a few hours. I faxed the reports as instructed and continued to research as much as I can about colon cancer. Within less than an hour, I received a call back from the same person who did the intake and told me that the reports were read and to see if I would like to make an appointment. I told him off course I would like to make an appointment, and he proceeded to ask which doctor I would like be treated by. I responded in a bold tone of voice, " I want a provider who is an expert in colon cancer, caring, compassionate and with good bedside manner as I ask a lot of questions.” He said, "it will with Dr. Thomas Cataldo” and an appointment was given.
My wife and I met with Dr. Cataldo on the appointment date, not sure what to expect, but he had reviewed my images and read the reports. I quickly asked what is going to happen? His response in a calm pleasant and caring voice, “he said we will work on this, it is curable!” My wife and I were in tears, not sure if they were tears of joys or tears of fear, but Dr. Cataldo and his team lived up to the expectation of being cured.
I underwent what is called adjuvant care, six weeks of chemo therapy and radiation, DaVinci Robotic Surgery, ileostomy bag, take down, 12 weeks of more chemo therapy, put in and take out a cath port for chemo therapy, an incisional hernia repair and finally a Sacral Nerve Stimulator. Dr. Thomas Cataldo and his team, interns, the nurses, receptionists, CNA workers, phlebotomists, radiation techs, social workers, stoma nurse and many other employees at the BIDMC were very efficient and tended to my care, to be sure that I received the best health care possible with a goal of being cancer free.
It is time for me to give back, I am motivated to run (or walk) this marathon. I am blessed at the age of 53 to have my health, my wife of 30 years and two adult children, Joshua 26 and Jacob 21.
I cannot express how thankful I am for my friends and family, during the treatment period for their love and support.
As many people know, working in health care is not easy, but being a patient and working in health care could be a lethal combination. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who works in an ER setting as a Crisis Clinician and I have my own private practice, with a focus on couples and family therapy.
I will be training over the next six months to run (or walk) this marathon, with the help of Mrs. Tonia Imad, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. For those of you who know me, I will be having some fun events to raise funds towards my goal, so keep an eye out.
I ask you to make a donation towards my goal, it will go to a good cause to support the BIDMC Cancer Center.
I thank you in advance!
At the BIDMC Cancer Center, gifted physicians, outstanding nurses, and dedicated staff form a team that is committed to breakthrough treatments delivered with kindness and respect. Researchers have made several discoveries that have led to greater understanding of cancer mechanisms resulting in improved and innovative cancer care. And because we have always understood the physical and emotional toll of a cancer diagnosis, our specialists take the time to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and develop unique support systems.