Cancer has given me a new purpose: to help other cancer patients know they are not alone.
In December 2020, at the age of 57 while in the best physical shape of my life, I was diagnosed with Myxoinflammatory Fibroblastic Sarcoma Cancer in my right foot. Four years previous, I went through a medically supervised weight loss program in 2016 where I lost 50 lbs. With the goal of keeping the excess weight off for good, I started to exercise regularly and improve my nutrition.
To say I did it all is an understatement: 5k races, swimming, bike riding, weight training, and 3 sprint triathlon competitions in Phoenix AZ led to another 25 lbs weight loss and my entry into 2 men’s physique competitions. Fast forward to August 2020, I was training for another physique competition when I noticed a small bump on the top of my right foot. Little did I know my life was about to be turned upside down.
I visited with my primary care physician and the diagnosis was a ganglion cyst. Being told to keep an eye on it as it should eventually go away, I continued with my active lifestyle including a mountain biking trip to Colorado. The cyst didn’t hurt but it was getting bigger. Not knowing what to do, I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon to get a MRI scan. The scan was inconclusive for cancer but a biopsy was recommended. Within ninety days the cyst was growing so large that surgery removal in late November was scheduled. The surgery was successful in that the tumor was removed intact but no orientation was achieved. I didn’t know specifically where the cancer was at in my foot. Biopsy results one week before Christmas 2020 confirmed the cyst was a high grade sarcoma cancer tumor with positive margins, which means there still may be cancer cells in my foot that will require another surgery.
I have cancer. Why me? What did I do wrong? Now what do I do? Not having the answers I started to take control of my situation and came to 2 conclusions.
First, I needed to find medical experts to help me get cancer free. My search led me to Mayo Clinic in Phoenix where the oncology team was treating sarcoma cancer patients just like me.
Second, I needed to stay positive. It had been my goal prior to my cancer diagnosis to reach my 80th birthday in great physical condition. With this goal still alive, I had to turn this cancer negative into a positive mindset. I created a vision board to motivate me. One day, I want to be a cancer volunteer, start a kids cancer fundraiser, and even create custom cancer T-shirts to chronicle my cancer treatments.
Fast forward to July 2021. After going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Mayo Clinic, I had a successful 2nd right foot surgery to get negative margins. No cancer cells were in my foot and I am now NED (no evidence of disease). My right foot surgery also required a skin flap and skin graft from my right thigh to reconstruct my right foot.
By sharing my cancer story on social media, I have kept myself moving in a positive direction both physically and mentally. Cancer has given me a new purpose: to help other cancer patients know they are not alone. Cancer is just a bump in the road. If they believe that like I believe, then life will return to normal with scars that will heal and make us that much stronger.
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