I met Tim when I started attending a local cancer support group that is sponsored by the hospital where I received my treatment. I was nervous about attending – as most people are on their first visit, but I went anyway. It was encouraging to meet Tim. He had a good positive attitude. It resonated with me because I have tried to always keep that same attitude through my own journey.
Here is Tim’s story…Tim was a correctional officer at the county jail and very fit. In fact, he called himself a ‘Gym Rat’ which I thought was an odd title, but apparently it’s a thing! At that time, he was in very good shape and faithfully worked out four days a week. Since he was body building, it was advised the he really load up on protein so red meat became a staple.
On December 2, 2014 Tim was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. It had spread to the liver and lymph nodes. After the initial meeting with oncology, and of course all the testing that is needed, it was determined that he would start chemo on January 7, 2015. As soon as he started treatment, the priest administered the Sacrament of Healing and anointed him with oil.
In March, a bowel blockage put chemo on hold so that he could have surgery to remove the blockage. In April, he resumed chemo.
As is common with chemo, neuropathy set in – hands and feet. Not long after that, a blood clot was discovered in his liver duct. So, on July 21st, 2015, Tim found himself once again in the operating room but this time, it was to remove a portion of his liver.
Chemo HAD been anticipated to continue once he recovered from this surgery, but the doctor decided that more chemo was not necessary.
In January of 2016 at a routine checkup, a cat scan revealed swollen lymph nodes. Tim underwent an ultrasound guided biopsy but it did not show cancer! Fast forward to November, 2016 and more swollen lymph nodes were revealed on a scan. Another biopsy again revealed nothing.
In April, 2017 a maintenance scan showed swollen nodes again. There was concern about cancer, but again, no cancer. In 2018 there were no more scans, just bloodwork to watch tumor markers. September, 2019 – blood draw – negative!
Because of the neuropathy, he was prescribed medication that caused tremors in his hands. This caused all kinds of problems for him. So much so that he had to file for disability. This was very hard for someone like Tim who was always used to providing for himself with good honest work.
When Tim and I met in order to get his story down on paper, I asked him some questions about how he handled the diagnosis, treatment and if he had advice for others going through this. Here is what he said:
“I grew up always knowing there was a God, but cancer really made Him real to me.”
“I got through treatment by retreating and playing video games, taking naps, spending time with my son and prayer.”
Tim’s advice for someone who is newly diagnosed: “Find a survivor and listen to their story but adapt it to your own journey.” “Their journey will likely NOT be yours.” “You have no control over the process, you need to decide to trust the process and your doctor.” “Give it to God.” “Trust HIM.”
When I asked Tim if he has any advice for someone who has already gone through this, he said this, “Be involved in another’s’ journey – be their cheerleader.” “Be an advocate.”
I’m happy to say that Tim is now able to hold down a full time job. He still has trouble with the tremors, but he is coping with them.
What about you? Do you have a story that you’d like me to feature? Do you have questions? Please drop me a line at Michele@thecancercalamity.com and I’ll be sure to respond.