As a young man of 44 years, I've been fortunate to survive two separate cancers. I was 29 when the lump in my neck turned out to be thyroid cancer. By the time I had it checked out (despite some symptoms I still thought that I was indestructible in my 20's) it had spread to my throat, neck and lungs. After a 12-hour surgery to remove my thyroid and multiple lymph nodes in my neck, and several years of radiation treatments I was in remission. I almost lost my ability to speak, but thanks to the skill of my surgeon that was spared as well.
I put that episode in the rearview mirror and got on with my life. I still have yearly checkups but they've been all good. Then I had a fainting episode in the gym just over a year ago that led to a cardiac work up. After several tests my cardiologist wanted to do one last catscan. The next day my primary physician called me and asked me to come in to talk. I showed up scared out of my mind. She told me that my heart was fine but incidentally they found a mass on my kidney. My heart sank as I knew exactly what that meant. All these fears filled my mind. Did it have to do with my thyroid cancer? Did it spread anywhere else? Where and when am I going to have surgery? We made a plan and by the time I got in my car I got my head straight and knew I would have to be strong for my family and friends.
It was difficult breaking the news to my family but by then I was in go mode and just focused on what I had to do. Going through it a second time brought greater clarity. I was fortunate and I only had to have a partial nephrectomy to remove the tumor and half of my kidney. I'm going in for my one-year checkup, but as of now I'm once again cancer free.
Now when people ask what the worst part of having cancer is, I always say that it's seeing kids with cancer in the waiting rooms and hospitals. It's just heartbreaking. So when it comes to fighting cancer, I focus my support towards children's charities and for kids in hospitals. I also try to offer support to people who suffer from thyroid and kidney cancers.
If the Islanders need volunteers for their fight against cancer I'd be happy to help out. Best of luck and thank you for your efforts. Go Isles!