Early next month I will celebrate the two-year anniversary of my stage four cancer diagnosis. Six months earlier, I had been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer, but after a successful removal of the kidney I really thought cancer was in the rear-view mirror. In June 2018, during a routine scan, some little white dots appeared in my lungs. The picture above is what my doctor showed me. I am still not sure what I was looking at. The CT report indicated “several new bilateral lung nodules consistent with metastatic disease.” A week later a biopsy confirmed my worst fear: I was now a stage four cancer patient. My doctor told me to stay away from the internet, which I did…for a couple hours and when I did my research, I found that the 5-year survival rate for stage 4 kidney cancer was 8%. It was clear my life was not going to progress the way I had always expected. I was crushed by the thoughts of all the things I wasn’t going to have time to do.
My family, friends, and relatives all rallied around me. A friend sent me a note with four simple points that have become the guideposts in my life. I hope they will mean as much to you as they have to me.
1. The story of your life isn’t finished being written until your life is over. This helped me realize that I still had some life ahead of me and I can add some good chapters to my life’s story.
2. You are the author of the story; others are just characters in it. It was up to me to decide on the content of the last chapters and I started to make deliberate choices about how I wanted my story to end.
3. Some of the best stories include people who overcame hardship. I started to think that maybe I can beat this or at least make sure my story is a long one.
4. Grow through and overcome obstacles and make a difference with those last chapters. I became determined to make a difference and help others in my situation. I was introduced to the American Cancer Society and have been a very active volunteer leader with that organization.
The mission of the American Cancer Society is to “Save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer.” The ACS supports people who are in the fight I am in and also provides significant funding for early stage new cancer treatments. I am hopeful that the ACS will help find a cure for my disease. COVID-19 has decimated many of the ACS’s traditional funding activities and revenue is expected to fall by at least 35% this year. That means fewer patients and families helped and less research and development of new cancer cures. We must not let that happen. Please join me in writing a new chapter about how my friends and colleagues helped raised additional funds to fill this need. Below is a site where you can contribute; please dig deep and help add to my story. Thank you for your support.