“I have stage IV lung cancer. It will only win if I let it. I believe attitude and involvement in the cause are everything in staying alive, and staying ahead of this lousy disease.”
Prior to being diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, my wife and I were making plans for our retirement. It was very important to us because my work kept me on the road 27 days a month for 20 plus years. I lived to work; some would say I was a workaholic.
When I wasn’t focused on work, I was focused on exercise. At 61, I was in outstanding shape. I did smoke for a few years but that was 36 years ago. I thought smoking wasn’t a problem because there is no cancer in my family and everybody smoked in the 50s and 60s.
It was at 61 that my life changed completely. I was getting off a plane and felt a severe pain in my right leg. As the days went on the pain grew worse. Towards the end of the trip, I could barely raise my leg to put on my pants.
I returned home and my wife insisted I go to the doctor. The doctor thought I had some inflammation due to over exercise. She prescribed some medication and sent me home. A week later, I revisited the doctor with a hard lump in my right groin.
She immediately gave me a chest x-ray, blood tests, a CT scan, an MRI and a bone scan. The CT scan showed lung and adrenal gland tumors. The bone scan showed tumors on my spine, ribs, neck and collar bone.
We met with the oncologist. He came into the office and said, “You have stage IV lung cancer. There is nothing we can do for you. Get your affairs in order and make funeral arrangements. You have about 30–60 days max.”
I rarely cried, but I did then. I was scared. I was lost and did not know what to do. At that moment, my wife decided she was not going to take this lying down. Immediately she made an appointment for a second opinion. We met the second oncologist and after he reviewed my records I said, “Doc, Is there any hope even a little hope, anything?” He just looked back at me and said, “There is always hope.”
After many rounds of unsuccessful chemotherapy, my doctors put me on an experimental drug that stabilized my disease. Through it all I continued walking my dogs every day for at least four miles, rain or shine! I have remained active throughout the entire six plus years since my diagnosis. I credit my survival on that fact.
Once I felt that my lung cancer was under control, I decided I wanted to help me and all lung cancer patients in the future. I researched lung cancer specific organizations and found LCA. My wife and I believe in their mission. We work with them and four years ago founded the Georgia chapter.
I have given up on retirement because there isn’t one for me. Instead my wife and I work together on my new life focus. We will fight this dreaded disease together with what time I have left.
I wake up each morning thanking God that I am alive. My aggressive business nature has helped me stay focused on a new end goal--to beat lung cancer and work towards finding a cure so that others can beat lung cancer too.