During these last 13 years, I've learned that my body is stronger than I ever thought possible.
My lung cancer diagnosis
The x-ray in 2007 was just a part of my semi-annual follow-up. Everything had looked great just six months earlier, and I was hopeful and confident that all my tests would be clear once again. But the usual time to hear the results had come and gone.
One afternoon, my office phone rang. My urologist was on the other end. He sounded straight, serious, concerned: There was a mass in my right lung. My heart began pounding in my ears. After surviving bladder cancer, I now had stage III non-small cell lung cancer.
Hearing "you have cancer -- again" is almost worse than hearing "you have cancer" for the first time. I had just finished treatment for the second recurrence of my bladder cancer. And, after facing more clinic visits, scopes, biopsies and major surgeries than most men my age, I was more than ready to move on and finally put cancer behind me.
But with a wife and a 3-year-old daughter at home, I couldn't let it beat my spirit. There was little time to feel sorry for myself.
Undergoing proton therapy treatment for lung cancer
On April 17, 2007, the tumor was removed along with the entire middle lobe of my right lung. But that wasn't the end of my lung cancer treatment. I made my way to MD Anderson, where doctors found cancerous cells in a lymph node. My diagnosis changed, and my idea of what treatment changed, too.
Dr. Ritsuko Komaki, M.D., and Dr. David Grosshans, M.D., thought I was a great candidate for proton therapy treatment. Knowing very little about the technology, I put all my faith into whatever I was told I needed. That August, I began weekly chemotherapy and daily proton therapy treatment for about seven weeks. When I was done, my family had a small party to celebrate the end of my treatment. It was a true milestone that I won't forget.