Survivor Since: June 2011
Diagnosis: Late Stage Testicular Cancer
Missouri Cancer Care Team:
- Dr. David Schlossman (now retired)
- Dr. Uma Ramadoss
- Jessica Baker, RN
Chemotherapy Care Team:
- Mung Chin, RN
- Johanna Joes, RN
- Denise Huff, RN
- Erin Swift, RN
- Danielle Kleithermes, RN
- Amy Boyle, RN
Treatment: Chemotherapy Treatment & Oral Chemotherapy
Earlier this year, the world was reminded of the inspiration of Muhammad Ali – “The Greatest” – when he passed away at age 74. We were reminded of the strength of this man who transcended limitations and dominated in the world of boxing, a sport that is physically and mentally demanding. Chronic illness is far from an athletic competition but requires the same demands as boxing. In the fight against cancer, our physical and mental components are compromised to a high-level.
Will you control the fight and find the heart of Ali within you? Or will you succumb to the intimidation of your opponent?
When it came to my personal battle, my opponent came to WIN! In June of 2011, a challenge from the Emperor of All Maladies (cancer) came point blank. Late-stage testicular cancer was calling my name. No way! Not me! Suddenly, life was all about winning this fight and turning my life over to Dr. David Schlossman (my hero) at Missouri Cancer Associates.
Many times during this battle, I didn’t know if I had the greatness to land a knockout. I needed the inspiration to bring an epic spirit and reinvent myself like never before. My camp (support network) and I were all fighting this battle together, as one. We knew that we could at least control the psychological side of the fight.
Even though I refused to let my life go unfulfilled due to medical adversity, the fight wasn’t over. In fact, it was far from over. I needed all the greatness I could commission for what was heading my way. The fight continued with intensity when I had a stroke (which rendered me blind in one eye) and sudden cardiac arrest, both in the final week of chemotherapy.
Did Muhammad Ali ever give up? Heck no! Why should I? It’s not in my DNA to quit, succumb, or fall to the hands of circumstance. I have a responsibility to others fighting cancer and those closest to me. I have a compelling message to share with survivors of any illness. That message is to fight with everything you have and, if you experience a bump in the road, get centered and get “The Eye of the Tiger.” Stand with boldness and a compelling conviction that you will control the fight.
Self-affirmation was critical in my battle with cancer. Nutrition and exercise became my go-to lifestyle. Personal reinvention is a lengthy undertaking, constantly making adjustments that provide value to life. I was evolving! I was taking my psychology to the next level.
Is life defined by one moment in time – a single diagnosis? No. Moments accumulate to provide insight and personal power. My world has been defined by a number of events and extraordinary individuals (caregivers and cancer survivors) including a 12-year old boy named Will Jacobs of Green City, Missouri. Will taught me to travel this journey with appreciation and inspire others in the process. After a compelling and valiant effort, Will’s journey on Earth ended in 2012 as a result of Glioblastoma Multiforme. He will forever be heroic to me and so many others.
My journey with cancer, stroke, and cardiac arrest lead me to share my story with others on the speaking platform and through peak performance coaching sessions. And, as a result of my speaking endeavors, members of a planning committee from Boone Hospital, Stewart Cancer Center, and Missouri Cancer Associates asked me to speak at the Survivor’s Luncheon on June 24, 2016. I accepted with excitement, because when I visit with cancer survivors or give a presentation before them, it’s an emotional ride into their hearts, their battle, and their victory. I know the pain they know! I have felt that same siege on the soul.
For nearly an hour, I stood before my heroes that day and confessed my deepest thoughts and appreciation for them. When in the presence of survivors and caregivers, I get emotional. The tears try to surface and often succeed. My tears reflect both the extreme WILL during the battle for life and the victory achieved. What a ride! What an experience! This is where I belong and need to be.
The day before the survivor’s luncheon, I met with my new oncology physician, Dr. Ramadoss for my regular oncology appointment at Missouri Cancer Associates. As always, a blood draw (CBC) was administered. In the last four years, my numbers had been great with no reason to believe otherwise.
Numerous markers of the CBC were flagged, and we quickly continued with additional tests including a bone marrow biopsy. The results revealed that a new diagnosis of CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia) was upon me.
As I write this blog post, I am in the 20th day of chemotherapy treatment which will last for the remainder of my life. Although this next leg of my fight is not something anyone wants to face, I am ultra-prepared mentally to battle this opponent with even more gusto than my first battle.
With Dr. Ramadoss leading the charge, it is time to take the gloves off for the long-haul, transcend, deliver more greatness, and inspire more people. My journey involves you! We all have “The Greatest” within us. Let’s land this thing on the moon! Seize your greatness! 4 – 0!
Acuity Performance Advisors is a Missouri-based firm specializing in performance and wellness design, coaching, and advising. In 2014, with 25 years facilitating employee performance initiatives we created a hybrid model supporting organizations seeking to integrate wellness to improve work/life experiences. The combined and catalyzing effects of merging employee wellness and performance position us still as a human capital cultivator. www.acuityperformance.com
Note: Dr. David Schlossman retired from Missouri Cancer Associates in November of 2015.
Looking for more information on testicular cancer?
Risk Factors: Health History can affect the risk of testicular cancer. Click here to view the risk factors of testicular cancer.
Signs and Symptoms: Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include swelling or discomfort in the scrotum. Click here to learn more about signs and symptoms of testicular cancer.
Screening and Detection: Tests that examine the testicles and blood are used to detect (find) and diagnose testicular cancer. Click here learn more about tests and procedures for testicular cancer.