1,826 days ago, I was laying in the emergency room of our local hospital. I had had blood work done in the morning, because I was having a problem breathing. After I would walk 25-60 feet, I would have to stop and catch my breath.
So I went and had blood work done. I received a call shortly afterwards that said “You are low on blood. Go to the ER immediately.”
So off I trudged to the emergency room. When I got there, they gave me four transfusions of blood. At that point, I was feeling fantastic. I said “I feel good. I can go home now, right?”
They said no. I had to have more tests done. I had a couple CT scans done, and the emergency room doctor walked into my room a couple hours later.
Dr. Gregory Burke. He looked at me with a straight face and said “It’s bad. It’s bad. It’s really, really bad.”
I was confused. And concerned. He explained that I had a tumor in my colon, which was cancerous. I needed to have the tumor removed. He didn’t know what stage the cancer was, but he was trying to find me a bed in another hospital where I could go and get the tumor removed.
(Funny story. I went back to the hospital a couple of years later and asked to see Dr. Burke. I thanked him for finding the tumor, and for his assistance. I thought he was going to cry. He said I was the first person in 25 years of being an emergency room doctor that had come back to thank him, especially after a diagnosis like mine.)
It took (I believe) three days for them to find a bed for me. I was transferred to Swedish First Hill, where I had the tumor removed. I was there for eleven days.
Shortly after leaving First Hill, I met with my oncologist for the first time. She said ‘You have stage 4 terminal colon cancer. You have 18-24 months to live. If there is anything that you have stopped eating because it was bad for you, you can start eating it again.” (She rescinded that a year later when I seemed to be improving and was gaining ‘too much’ weight, after losing 43 pounds from the initial colon cancer surgery).
Went through chemo. Went through a couple more surgeries, including one to remove another tumor that had grown in my stomach from the metastasizing of the colon cancer.
But five years later, I’m still here. I was declared in remission about two years ago. I still get checked every four months or so for any new growth, but so far, thank God, I have not had any new growth.
Along the way, I’ve met many people who have cancer. I try to be a positive light for them, whether they are someone I actually know, or someone I just meet in passing. Sometimes I fail. Most of the time, I think that I am able to give them hope. We all need a little bit of hope.
Anyway, that is my story till now.
God is good. He’s really the reason I’m still here.