This past weekend, nearly 700 Huntington students, staff and families participated in a Relay for Life event (American Cancer Society) at Huntington High School. They raised over $128,600 for cancer research. It was an amazing effort by an amazing community. My health did not allow me form a team to participate and walk the overnight event, however I did have the privilege of addressing the crowd during the opening ceremonies. This was my iRelay story...
Two years ago this week, I found out that my nagging and increasing left hip pain was a metastatic tumor. After a week of further testing I was told I had Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer or Stage 4 Lung Cancer.
I was floored. I had no respiratory symptoms. I was not a smoker. It was hip problem, not a lung problem. The test results, however, were clear.
I immediately assembled a team of talented oncologists, and had surgery to remove the tumor on my hip just in time for it to save the hip socket. That was followed with 25 radiation treatments and 5 months of highly toxic and aggressive Chemotherapy.
My world was a blur. After the shock and realization that this was not a dream I knew I had some important decisions to make; most of all how was I going to live the rest of my life.
At that time I decided that although I can’t change the fact that I have this disease or how effective the medical treatment I receive can be, I do have control over the most important tools of all; my mind and my attitude.
I decided to treat the cancer as aggressive as possible, and decided to do the same with my mind through hope and positive energy. Much of this positive energy continues to come from the amazing support of family and friends. Hope just made perfect sense to me. Why not hope for the best rather than expect the worst?
The chemo did not fully address the cancer. It shrunk my lung tumor, but more metastases continued to occur. So it was more radiation and a change in chemo treatment. I was told that I would need chemo treatments every 3 weeks for the foreseeable future.
Fast forward to today. I stand before you as a proud Trustee of the Huntington School Board. I had my 23rd cycle of chemo this past Monday. I have radiological surgery scheduled for this week on my newest hip tumor and am in need of a hip replacement that my doctors currently deem as too risky.
So what do I do? I move forward. I don’t look back. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I think about what I can do improve my life and the lives of others around me.
I look out at the crowd here today and am so proud to be in the presence of so many cancer survivors. My type of cancer like other advanced cancers have no cure yet. We treat it like a whack-a-mole game, hammering it every time it pops up. There is no end to chemo treatments in sight, yet I remain hopeful.
I’d like to say how proud I am of our High School Students and Staff and everyone else who coordinated this event. You bring awareness to the how cancer touches so many of our lives. Money and research is needed to find tools to eradicate the many cancers that plague us. Some are already curable, for others treatments are continually improving.
I also want to thank my family, friends, doctors and nurses for their amazing support.
I leave you today with something a friend of mine said to me when I was diagnosed. “If your odds are one in a million, who is to say that you are not that one?" Well I choose to be that one.
Thanks again to all of you for participating in this important event.