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Melanoma and lung cancer survivor: 'I can, I am, and I will survive cancer'

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By Tom Barber

In the four years since I completed lung cancer treatment, I've been dedicated to showing others that there is hope and the possibility of a wonderful life after lung cancer.

As the fourth of six immediate family members who have had lung cancer and the only one who has survived, I started this new life with the words "I can," my faith and the support of family and friends. I've had the privilege of working with MD Anderson's survivorship group and completing a couple of triathlons, a half-marathon and some other running events.

But in August, my cancer journey took an unexpected turn when I was diagnosed with melanoma.

My melanoma diagnosis: A new chapter
During my lung cancer checkup, I asked the doctors to investigate a spot of concern to me on my upper torso. That spot turned out to be nothing.

But, once again, an incredibly skilled doctor at MD Anderson may have saved my life by finding a very small melanoma tumor on my shoulder. It was hardly remarkable. It was the size of a freckle.

I was devastated by the melanoma diagnosis, but I also was confident in my team and my ability to wage the war. Small seems to always be good where cancer is concerned. As a part of my melanoma treatment, I had a surgery to remove some skin and tissue, as well as the sentinel lymph node.

The pathology report showed that all was good. No further treatment. Once again, early diagnosis, great doctors and my own vigilance are giving me the very best chance possible.

Training after melanoma treatment
I certainly enjoyed my few weeks off, but now that my melanoma treatment is complete, it is time to lift weights, ride my bike, swim and run again.

Honestly, it's been hard this second time around. It has been a big mental challenge. Cancer is trying to wear me out. But it seems that my triathlons may have done more than give some hope to families, patients and caregivers. They also prepared me for my own battle against yet another cancer.

So, what comes now? What am I supposed to do?

Here's my plan: I can, I am, and I will survive cancer again.

Watch Tom Barber share his advice for athletic training after cancer:



Tom Barber is a 58-year-old lung cancer and melanoma survivor. After a lobectomy and a clinical trial, he completed 5K and 10K runs, a half-marathon and two triathlons.

Read more blog posts by Tom Barber

Lung cancer and melanoma are two of the cancers MD Anderson is focusing on as part of our Moon Shots Program to dramatically reduce cancer deaths. Learn more about our Lung Cancer Moon Shot and our Melanoma Moon Shot.

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