By Robert Grizzard
I was diagnosed on June 7, 2013 at age 62 with stage IV Adenocarcinoma. I had been preparing for my retirement when cancer reared its ugly head. I wasn’t ready to give up on life. On my first visit with my oncologist, he said that the best thing I could do for myself is maintain a positive attitude. I decided that I was going to live life.
Cancer has in some ways been a blessing to me. I have learned to relax and enjoy life. Cancer can only take away from you what you allow it. I choose to allow it to be a subtitle in my story not a main event. It does not define me or describe me.
I have had surgery, 16 rounds of IV chemo, four targeted radiation treatments, two targeted therapies, and even six months of NED. At each point I have to adjust to a new normal. I draw inspiration from people who have written about their stories, other survivors that I have met both in person and online. I am blessed to have a dedicated caregiver and medical advocate in my wife, as well as a support network of family and friends.
In addition to a positive attitude, I maintain hope. New treatments are continually being developed. Since August of 2016, I have been on a 3rd generation targeted therapy that was only approved for use six months prior. This drug has regressed my cancer, which had spread to my liver and bones, back to my lung and significantly reduced activity there.
After four years I feel better than I ever thought possible at the beginning of my journey. Through it all I have striven to enjoy life as much as possible and am grateful for each day. I have stood beside my son as his best man, been scuba diving, and recently jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. Some say I have a will of steel, but I decided four years ago that cancer wasn’t going to stop me.