On August 24, 2011 – one year ago today – I heard the words, “It’s cancer.” spoken to me. Until then, I had never had any serious health issues, and this was found sort of as a coincidence from being checked out for something else. Well, some call it coincidence – I call it God. I went in the hospital on August 19th to have an easy laparoscopic procedure done to remove a single, very small mass. I woke up after major surgery that removed 15 tumors from my small intestine. Quite a surprise, to say the least. A few days later, as I was preparing to be discharged from the hospital, the surgeon comes in and says, “It’s cancer.”
In all, I had three major surgeries in 6 weeks time. Easily could have died after the second. Had a total of 16 tumors removed and a foot and a half of my small intestine. I lost 50 lbs within a single month because I couldn’t eat or drink. I never did chemo, instead having octreatide treatments. After just a few months, I was declared cancer free on May 1, 2012.
Cancer has changed me in many ways. It has helped to organize priorities like nothing else. It has taught me to appreciate the little things that occur in life – sunsets, a great beach, time spent with those that I care about. It has motivated me to invest in people and letting them know that someone cares what they are going through. I still have the drive to be very good at what I do professionally. I still get amped up when I make a big sale or when I speak at a conference or please a customer – I mean, I was texting my customers within a couple of hours of major surgery to check in with them and make sure things were good and that they had what they needed…hahaha! But more than anything else, I just appreciate life now.
One year later, I run 20-25 miles per week. I’ve lost 80 pounds. I’m healthier and happier than I have been in a very long time. I will celebrate tonight by having just short of 100 people in my home who supported and encouraged me along the journey.
Cancer is a terrible disease, and I know that I am fortunate. I know others and see others who have been in this battle repeated times and over the course of several years. Mine was nothing compared to theirs. People have lost family members, friends, and co-workers to this disease. My heart goes out to all of those who have not had the same outcome as I. But for me – cancer can and has been defeated.