Memorial Sloan-Kettering Feature Article

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Memorial Sloan-Kettering Feature Article

The following was published in the quarterly newsletter to patients, survivors, and family members by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  I was treated their for the first cancer I had, thyroid cancer, in my late twenties.  I appreciate all the staff of Bridges, and the doctors and nurses who cared for me there.  I hope you enjoy the story.

As I looked up at the building, I realized that I had passed it hundreds of times as I traversed the city in my mergers
and acquisition business duties, never giving it a second thought. Today was different — very different. You see, during a routine physical a lump was found in my throat, and it was determined that I needed to see a specialist. I had a friend who just went through cancer treatment and suggested that I go to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. I took her advice. My wife and I stood before MSKCC wondering what the appointment would hold. I was nervous and anxious, as I was only 29 years old and had never been sick a day in my life.
As I recall, the waiting area was warm and comforting, although I felt cold and somewhat panicky inside. The hospital staff had received my documentation from my primary care physician and was well aware of my situation. A biopsy would be needed of the nodule in my throat, which was about the size of a peppercorn. To make a long story short, the biopsy came back positive for papillary carcinoma of the thyroid gland. Not the news I was expecting to hear. If you are going to have thyroid cancer, this is the least aggressive form of the several that are out there. The treatment protocol does not call for radiation or chemotherapy, but surgery. Surgery didn’t sound too bad, except that it would be my throat that they would be cutting!
The friend who had suggested I go to MSKCC had had the same surgery there and said that all went well for her. She actually had a plastic surgeon on hand to do the closing, so as to minimize the potential scarring. Having her to talk to throughout the process was a great help in knowing what to expect. My surgery went off without a hitch as well. I let the general surgeon close my wound, as opposed to a plastic surgeon. Must be a guy thing!
As it turns out, this was not my last experience with cancer. I later learned that from somewhere along the family genetic line I got a faulty p53 gene, which has something to do with turning on and off cancer activity in cells. As I aged, I was diagnosed with two melanomas; both were caught in time and were removed with surgery. No need for any radiation or chemotherapy.
Then, havoc struck again. My family and I had moved to Charleston, South Carolina. As I was getting on a ride at the fair with my daughter, the act of putting my arm around her snapped the bone in my right arm.
I was in such pain that I flew off the ride before it started, without any thought of my daughter, who was only five at the time. The doctors had determined that it was a pathological fracture, and after much testing came up with a diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma, a primary bone cancer.
I am now in remission from the bone cancer, but lost the use of my right arm. I was looking for hope during that journey, but it was difficult to find in those days. I am thankful for publications like the Bridges newsletter that let us share our stories and inspire us with messages of hope from other survivors