Cancer doesn't care.
More than likely, you or someone you know has been affected by cancer, because cancer doesn't care. Young. Old. Male. Female. This widespread disease doesn't discriminate.
When I was 44 and in the best shape of my life, cancer didn't care then either. It didn't matter that I had a wife and three children or that I was president of our family business. Cancer didn't care.
During a financial exam, I put my hand on my neck as I pondered a question, and I felt a bump. A visit to my doctor followed, and I was prescribed a round of antibiotics and steroids.
A vacation to the Keys, a business trip and a needle biopsy later, I was diagnosed with stage four HPV-related tonsil cancer. A few days later, I had a radical tonsillectomy and a neck dissection to remove 42 lymph nodes. After that, I began chemotherapy and radiation.
As the days unfolded, I learned more about my diagnosis:
- Men between the ages of 40 and 50 are most likely to be diagnosed with HPV-related head and neck cancers.
- Most people probably contracted the disease years before and are symptom-free for a long time.
- While the diagnosis is severe, HPV-related tonsil cancer is highly treatable and tends to have good outcomes.
Over the next seven weeks, I experienced side effects of my treatment that ranged from unpleasant to downright miserable. I was unable to swallow my own saliva, and I had to learn to live with a feeding tube.
There was an emotional toll, too. It's a horrible feeling to need your wife to shield your children from you, but I didn't want them to work about the possibility of losing their dad.
I recorded personal messages for each of my children in the event of my passing: Lauren, one-day you're going to get married, and I won't be there. I tried to impart years of fatherly wisdom in a matter of minutes, because I didn't think I had much time left.
Let me tell you, those are videos I hope you never have to make.
The journey was certainly not an easy one, but I'm proud to say that I'm cancer-free today. I didn't fight my battle alone: my wife was a superhero; my children and the rest of my family were the strongest support system I ever could have imagined.
And thanks in no small part to AdventHealth Cancer Institute, my story has a happy ending.
AdventHealth Cancer Institute
I received the best possible care at AdventHealth. Skilled and compassionate caregivers were committed to me and my health, and they continue to work toward a cure for cancer.
The generosity of people like you helps fund:
- Translational research
- Clinical trials
- State-of-the-art facilities and tools
- Cancer care for uninsured and underinsured patients
AdventHealth Cancer Institute saved my life. Thanks to everyone on my care team, I will walk my daughter down the aisle one day. Ill get to see my sons become dads. I get to spend a lifetime with my wife. I'll be a brother and son for many more years.
None of this would be possible without AdventHealth. I support their work, and I invite you to join me by making a gift today.
You can help bring us one step closer to a cure.
Click here to learn more about AdventHealth Foundation.