If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of the past year is this, there’s one thing that doesn’t discriminate and that’s the Big “C”, Cancer. Young, old, male, female, it doesn’t matter. It affects everyone we know. To say Cancer is life-changing would be an understatement. For those of us who are dealing or dealt with cancer, you know what I mean. When I found out, two things really stood out, my long-term health outlook and the costs. Our primary insurance is through my wife’s employer, one disadvantage of being a small business owner. When you consider co-pays, coverage at certain percentages at certain amounts, one would have gone to law school to figure all this out.
June 17th marks the one-year anniversary of my colon rectal cancer surgery. The time from diagnosis to surgery happened within a few months. I was diagnosed in February 2019 with what was believed to be late stage 1 or early stage 2 colon cancer. After many visits to several doctors and specialists, it wasn’t until May that it was diagnosed as stage 3(a). Surgery, I was told, was the only solution.
The surgery was successful. And immediate pathology results showed all clear. An initial 3-hour surgery ended up being 7 hours with 3 hours in recovery. The cancer had localized showing no signs of spread. The surgery left me with both colostomy and urostomy bags. I’ve managed to get accustomed to the bags and it’s sure changed some aspects of my life. After the surgery, I had 10 chemo sessions as a preventive measure, finishing my last session in February. My last lab results show I’m still cancer free. I have labs and scans scheduled for late June to benchmark where I’m at. If my scans come back clear, we’ll start planning the reversal surgeries. It’s going to be a long haul, but one I’m looking forward to.
My health has rapidly improved since my surgery. My weight is almost back to normal, I weighed 135 pounds when I checked out of the hospital. Not a good weight being 6’1”. My energy level improves every day. There are good and bad days since ending my chemo sessions in February. I still have some neuropathy in my fingers and feet, but it’s gradually fading. I was told that it could take 6 to 8 months to flush the chemo out of my system. Like everyone, your mind races when you find out you have cancer. You start researching things on the internet. A word of caution…be very careful of what you read online. Everyone is different. What works for one might not work for you. Talk to your doctors.
I have what I call the “3 F’s”. Family, Friends, and Faith. Our family has always been close. They were devastated when they found out. All the unknowns, what’s going to happen, what are we going to do, etc. was the topic of many discussions. To this day, they have been rock stars in their support, and we have been really blessed. The outpouring of support we’ve gotten from our friends has been off the charts. I’m the chief umpire/consultant for San Antonio’s District 19 Little League. The support from the umpires and leagues has been awesome. They are truly an extended family.
It was through our family I got connected with ThriveWell Cancer Foundation. My brother Toby is a retired Army 1st Sargent and the band director for County Line Community Band. They had recently performed at a ThriveWell Cancer Foundation fundraiser.
He called and asked if I had heard about ThriveWell. Naturally, I hadn’t since this was all new. We talked about ThriveWell for over an hour. He told me about their mission, the services they provide; financial assistance, transportation, classes, and much more. He gave me Erin Ercoline’s phone number and encouraged me to call. I was reluctant at first. I’m not one who likes to ask for help.
After thinking about it, I made the call. I talked to Erin and she explained everything to me. She outlined the process and asked some basic questions. She really made me feel comfortable. I told her I’d been referred to Texas Oncology and Dr. Wilks is my oncologist. She told me Dr. Wilks is a big supporter of the foundation. Erin explained the next time I go into the office, to let them know any copays or expenses would be paid for by ThriveWell. I cannot tell you how that phone call made us feel. I’m glad I called. ThriveWell is the epitome of what other organizations strive for. They are the standard, always going above and beyond. Good teams are defined by their players, each player excels to win championships, teammates become family. You become part of the ThriveWell family.
I’ll leave you with the final F, Faith. A huge part of our healing process is a positive attitude and those in your inner circle. Every day is a challenge but consider “small victories”. You wake up, get coffee, eat breakfast, check email, phone calls, run errands, visit family, friends, check email again, have dinner, then you relax before ending the day. Look for the small victories, you’ll see how positive things really can be. Build on them. We’ve been dealt with a disease that is relentless. We don’t know why, and we all have asked ourselves, “why me”. Let that go. Don’t let cancer control your life, you control your life.
Wake up every morning and tell yourself, “Today belongs to me”. Put faith in yourself, family, and friends. Put Faith in ThriveWell. Their Faith is in you. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with any comments, questions, or just want to talk to, we’re all family. Thanks for reading my story and God bless.