At one time cancer was the number one fear of most people. It no longer holds that distinction but it’s still in the top three and for good reason. In America, it is estimated that 50% of men and 60% of women will be diagnosed with some form of this disease during their lifetime. Although medical science, treatment programs and drug therapies have come a long way over the last 25 years, it’s still a frightening thing to hear your doctor tell you that you have “The Big C!”
Because cancer is so prevalent in America, I wanted to address this issue on a personal level. Maybe you’re waiting to find out the test results or have already been diagnosed with this disease. Maybe you have a loved one that has just been diagnosed or is currently going through treatment. I want you to know that I can relate to your concerns for I am a cancer survivor.
The Year Was 1981!
I was in excellent shape with no history of major illness and no need for a doctor. It was September 1st and I went to work that day like any other day. My work was running one of the largest health clubs in the western suburbs of Chicago. The DuPage Health & Racquet Club had 7 indoor tennis courts, 15 racquetball courts, a large health center with running track, aerobic studies, and three different locker rooms with full amenities.
As the day progressed I felt like I was getting a cold. When I left work to come home, I felt like I had a cold with flu like symptoms. I was supposed to attend a meeting that night, but I stayed home because I was in too much pain. About 11 pm that night I pulled out my medical books to see if I could figure out what was wrong with me. I had severe abdominal and back pain. It responded a bit like an appendix but not exactly. I finally gave up and crawled into the bedroom and told Sherry, my pregnant wife, that I needed to go to the DeKalb Community Hospital.
I don’t remember much about that night because they gave me medication for the pain. I didn’t have a physician since I had never been sick during my college days. The following morning the doctor on call, Dr. Purdy, did an ultrasound and located a large mass in my abdominal cavity. He suggested I could either go get a second opinion or undergo immediate exploratory surgery. We chose the surgery. Four-and-a-half hours later, with two surgeons working on me, I woke up to learn that they had taken out a large cancerous mass about the size of a grapefruit. Thankfully, it was self contained and hadn’t penetrated any other organs. It was identified as a seminoma, which is a form of testicular cancer. Because of the location and type, I got written up in the medical books.
I was blessed to be in the care of Dr. Purdy, the attending physician, who I had never met before in my life. He had chosen to practice medicine in a small rural town, but was skilled and gifted beyond anyone else that I encountered at the Big Hospitals where I went for follow up testing. I will forever be grateful for his skill and care in managing my operation and follow up care.
Big City Hospitals – The Good & Bad!
Because the DeKalb Community Hospital was just a small general care facility, I was referred to St. Luke-Presbyterian in Chicago, IL. It was a complete waste of my time and money. For 5 days I was in a small room waiting for further tests to make sure my cancer had not spread. I only saw the intern twice. I never saw a doctor. And when they finally did my test it could have been done on an outpatient basis. I had a Blue Cross/Blue Shield health plan but it only cover 80% of the cost. The remaining 20% was paid out of pocket for a hospital stay that was totally unnecessary.
The radiation department at St. Luke-Presbyterian wanted to do my radiation therapy. Thankfully, I was blessed to meet Dr. Mehta, the head of radiation therapy at Weiss Memorial Hospital. I didn’t know Dr. Mehta at the time but I did know his wife, Dr. Ashi Mehta who was a physician and played tennis regularly at my health club. Her intervention allowed me to choose her husband to perform my radiation treatments.
My type of cancer was only responsive to radiation therapy. With Dr. Mehta’s expert care, he coordinated my treatment program. I would drive to work (work a half day) and then drive to the north shore of Chicago. After my treatment I would drive two hours back home, go to the bathroom, throw up, and then sleep most of the remaining afternoon and night away. It was like clockwork each and every day until a special event happened.
Hope Comes In All Size Packages
Sherry was pregnant at that time with our first child. Ryan Daniel was born on October 14th. This date was exactly the halfway point between when I went into the hospital on September 1st and when I completed my last radiation treatment. His birth was a Hope and a Blessing.
I would be completely remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the prayers, care, and physical support given to Sherry and me by Pastor Castro and the church members of the DeKalb Wesleyan Church where Sherry and I attended. At the time of my cancer we were about to move from an apartment to our first home. Since Sherry was about ready to deliver our first child and I was hospitalized, the church members moved us completely so that neither Sherry nor I had to worry about the transition. Several church members also made the investment of time by regularly showing up at the IC unit to provide care, support and prayer.
I was also told that from my operation and follow up operations that I would most likely not have any more children. Well, 3 years later Sarah Michelle was born. A healthy little girl who is now grown up and married! We also have a child, Sean Michael, who is in Heaven waiting for his parents. There is hope on both sides of life after cancer.
My physical, emotional and spiritual needs were cared for in a profound and wonderful way. The only area that wasn’t really addressed was my nutritional needs. That became a process of discovery. At the time of my cancer, not much was done to educate the cancer patient on what they could do nutritionally to help them maintain their energy levels and boost their immune system. The importance of nutrition was just beginning to be acknowledged at that time.
So much information has surfaced over the last 25 years. Your nutritional habits play a key role in your general health as well as in helping to prevent specific types of diseases. The next 10 years will see even greater breakthroughs with the advent of nanotechnology and other treatment programs. Central to it all, for both prevention and support during the crisis, is nutrition. If you have cancer, then work with your doctor to develop a nutritional program that will help support you during your treatment and recovery phases. As the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, said:
Observations & Recommendations
If you or a loved one is facing cancer, then I offer you the following observations from my own personal experience:
If you’re looking for a hospital or cancer department that will treat the whole person, then I highly recommend Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Just click on their name and it will take you to their website. If you’d like a personal relationship with Jesus, then I recommend the website NEED HIM! Just click on the name. If you have any questions about what it means to be a Christian, then feel free to email me and I’ll try my best to answer your questions.
Finally, my testimony to you is that there is life after cancer and it can be GOOD! In fact, it is GREAT!
Until next time, may we both age youthfully!
P.S. As a convenience, I’ve also included links to the following cancer articles:
The information contained in this website and posted articles are for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information contained in this website and posted articles has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.