February 6, 2018 was a tough day. For about two and a half months leading up to that day, I had been battling what felt like a chest cold or chest congestion. I first noticed this, as best I can remember, in the middle of November of last year. It was getting tougher to maintain my normal running speed on the treadmill without getting winded. At the time, I shrugged it off and decided that my body would fight the “cold” as I went through the holiday season. Fast forward to mid-January and I knew it was time to see my doctor. The chest congestion was hanging on and my runs were becoming frustratingly more difficult. The doctor put me on an inhaler and gave me a referral for a chest x-ray. After about two weeks of trying the inhaler and not seeing progress, I went to get a chest x-ray on February 5th. As I said earlier, February 6th was the tough day because it was the day I found out that my “chest congestion” was, in fact, a tumor in my chest roughly the size of an orange. Several days of tests later and the tumor was identified as a malignant Thymoma…Cancer. This is a scary diagnosis and was certainly a shock to me and my family but one that we have accepted and stand ready to face. There remain a lot of questions for me, my family, and I’m sure to those reading our story. Here is what we can tell you at this point.
· I went through my first chemotherapy treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on February 16th without any major side effects. I will be going back every three weeks for several cycles in hopes of shrinking the tumor. If all goes well, it will decrease to a size that allows it to be removed via surgery. The next round of chemo is scheduled for March 9th.
· I am being treated by some of the best doctors in the country. As one of the doctors said to me early on, “you look like you’re ready to fight this and you’ll have the best fighters in the world fighting on your behalf”. It didn’t hurt to hear the doctor say that.
· I work for an amazing company. The people I work with and for have gone so far beyond to help us in this fight, that we’ll never be able to repay them.
· Julie and I have been moved beyond words by the level of love and support we have received from our family and friends. It is difficult to have to face something like this but to realize how many people are genuinely in our corner is unbelievable and life changing. Thank you!
· I have an amazing wife, son, and daughter. During my time at Michigan State, I made some questionable (some may say poor) decisions. However, I also made the best decision of my life when I asked this cute little blonde girl to go out on a date. That was 1994 and we have been together since. Hearing this kind of news can drop you to your knees and crush your spirit. It did it to me for a brief moment and Julie helped me to get back up on my feet. She is unbelievably strong and supportive and has been a rock the past month. The kids have adjusted to the news, are ready to help in any way they can, and stand ready to fight alongside me. As Kylie wrote at the end of a poem she gave me, “together we will slay the beast, we will become survivors and the sun will gleam again”. She leaves me little inspirational notes all over the house (I wonder where she gets this from Julie…).
· I am strong, positive, and ready to take on this disease both mentally and physically. It will be a long, tough road but I will come out the other side. We’re celebrating the good days as wins and will deal with the bad ones as they come. So far, there have been more days in the win column.
Thank you all for the love and support you’ve shown to our family. We can’t tell you how much it means. And, for the record, today is another good day.