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I Am a Cancer Warrior
For everything that my family and I have been through the last 8 years, I never expected to type these words.
Thursday morning, I head to MD Anderson to have a 4cm tumor removed from my right kidney.
How we found out about it is an interesting story and part of the journey yet to come. Last October, I had some numbness in the fingertips on my right hand. Assuming it was a pinched nerve, I visited my chiropractor a few times. We made progress but it never went away, so I reached out to a friend who is an orthopedic surgeon.
He scheduled an x-ray, which led to an MRI of my neck. When Jaymi and I met with the neurologist in mid-February, who has a background in oncology, he did not have great news. His assessment was that I had a tumor in my neck, that is was cancer and that it quite likely had spread from somewhere else.
I was admitted and an array of tests were scheduled: full MRI, upper CT scan, lower CT scan and biopsy of the tumor in my neck. While this was happening, through the work of an incredible friend and my company’s CEO, we made contact with a neurosurgeon at MD Anderson, who agreed to fix me. Quick small world story. He lives in Kingwood and his daughter went to high school with our daughter, Haley, and son-in-law, Nathan. We also got some relief from my conversation with him. Based upon my symptoms, he thought the neck tumor was likely benign. We received the biopsy results that week and it was benign! Still had to deal with it but it could be a bit more on our terms and after Haley & Nathan’s wedding (was on March 7th and a top 5 day of my life).
Unfortunately, the lower CT scan showed the growth on my kidney. Hence, the surgery this Thursday. They will go in using robotics to cut the growth out. Some good news - the surgery is all that is necessary. No chemo or radiation necessary. Then, we monitor it on an annual basis.
We are dealing with the kidney first because, even though the neck tumor is benign, it has essentially eaten away at my spine. It will require extensive surgery – two days back to back – to remove the tumor, reconstruct my C-5 thru C-7 vertebrae and add titanium rods. Airport security should be fun!
The neck surgeries are scheduled for April 7 & 8. They are extremely delicate – 6 to 10 hours - and it sounds like I will have a team of surgeons present. I couldn’t be in better hands.
While I am not excited about the recovery and PT that I have in front of me, I know I will get through it with the support of my family and by God’s grace. I was walking our dog yesterday and speaking with God. I asked Him to take my worries and anxiety with this and felt an immediate relief. I know He has me in his arms and I know I will be okay.
I also know that I am a Cancer Warrior and will always fight this stupid disease. In Landon’s memory and for every child fighting today and tomorrow.