At the end of June, I was asked to share my cancer story. I was willing to do so in the hopes that it would help others find hope and understand how important the Pink Arrow Pride is to the future treatment of all forms of cancer and the people living with them.
My wife and I are both Lowell graduates and have raised our three children in Lowell. Our daughter Kayla graduated in 2009, Athena in 2014 and our son, Jason will be a senior this year. We have been involved with the Pink Arrow movement from the beginning.
My personal story begins in February. I was having slight chest pains. As my wife had just undergone open heart surgery, she insisted that I go to the doctor. I agreed to go. A few tests were done which led to the call that no one wants to receive, being told that I have lung cancer. I lost my mom four years ago, just weeks after she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. So when I got the call that I had lung cancer, I was even more shocked and scared. I immediately started researching lung cancer and soon discovered that not everything on the internet is accurate, true or up to date. All I managed to do was scare myself even more. So started the battery of testing. Our entire family spent a lot of time in prayer. A biopsy of the mass was taken and several scans were done to check for spreading to other parts of my body. The cancer had not seemed to have spread, but the tumor was large and had invaded my chest wall. Treatment was not certain at this point as the actual type of lung cancer had not been identified. Thus, we were referred to a cardiothoracic surgeon to discuss possible next steps. Initially we were told by the surgeon that there was nothing that could be done; it was too risky. But soon after, our prayers were answered when we found a surgeon who was willing to operate. The same surgeon, in fact, who had completed my wife’s surgery only months prior. And so it began. I underwent a six-hour surgery, spending 11 days in the hospital, losing part of my lung, part of my chest wall and four of my ribs. Following the surgery, we were informed that my cancer was only stage 2 as it had not spread to any other part of my body, including my lymph nodes. The tissue that they removed had “clear margins,” meaning they were able to remove all of the cancer, as far as they could see; we were overjoyed with this news and I again began foreseeing a future.
Following surgery, I spent a couple months on the couch recuperating. It was still possible that cancer cells too small to see had spread to other areas of my body. Thus, I started chemotherapy, of which, I was to have four rounds. After a couple months, I had made it through three rounds, which left me down and worn out, but I was slowly getting better and able to do more and more. In the week following the third round, I started to have severe shortness of breath and decided it necessary to go to the ER. It was there that the doctors discovered cancer on my adrenal gland. This was heartbreaking news. My cancer could now be classified as stage 4. Despite the fear that instantly filled me and my loved ones, my oncologist informed me that there is still a lot of hope. I am now getting ready to start on immunotherapy, which I believe to be the future for cancer treatment. People are living longer after undergoing treatment with immunotherapy and reporting a better quality of life. We are once again hopeful as we begin a new part of our journey.
We have had so much support from our family, friends, church family, coworkers, employers, and this community. We have been to Gilda’s Club, which has been such a comfort. There are many others who understand what we are going through. We were honored to be a part of the first ever Pink Arrow lacrosse game and are planning on being a part of the Pink Arrow football game in a new way from a very different perspective. Knowing that we are surrounded by so many wonderful people, rallying around us, makes a really hard journey so much easier! We have a long way to go, but we are so thankful to have God to lean on as well as the care, love and support of those around us.