Beating the Odds

Two people holding hands

On October 15, 1992 my life changed dramatically. After multiple CT scans and painful biopsies, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I had stage IV cancer.

The news certainly hit both my family and friends very hard. A late stage diagnosis is that last thing anyone wants to hear. But I quickly realized that life just dealt me my cards. It was up to me to decide how I’d play them.

I decided to fight.

Surgery, followed by chemotherapy, was the treatment of choice. It wasn’t easy. I was mentally, physical and emotionally knocked down multiple times. But with each setback, I found an innate ability to fight. With each obstacle, my perseverance grew stronger. I was able to dig deep in search of the positives. Over time, the positive thinking became almost automatic and required less work.

I was winning.

In August of 1993, CT scans revealed an increase of the disease in my abdomen and kidney obstruction.

I had relapsed.

My next move was a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT). The chemotherapy would consist of VP-16, 60 hours of continuous Cytoxan and 3 days (2x/day) of total body radiation. I knew then, that I was in the battle for my life and that this next set of treatments could very realistically kill me. I had no choice.

The next several years were a blur of ups and downs. Post treatment health issues and challenges included:

  • Right urethral/kidney obstruction and multiple stent changes
  • Pneumonia = (x3. PCP/Ventilator)
  • Congestive heart failure (x2)
  • Shingles
  • Loss of hair, finger/toe nails, mouth sores, skin burns, tremors, nausea
  • Multiple bone marrow biopsies
  • Multiple blood transfusions
  • Sepsis
  • Assumed 2nd relapse (Was told I was out of treatment options)
  • Potential infertility
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Basil cell carcinoma
  • Kidney transplant

I survived it all.

Today, I am happy to say that I am a 23-year cancer survivor and living life to the fullest. I work full-time at Citibank with 33 years of service. I finished my bachelor’s degree, taught myself to be an avid fly fisherman, have a 19 year old daughter in college, and was awarded and recognized as the Roswell Cancer Institute “Star of Hope” in 2003.

My day-to-day approach is to make every moment count. When I’m feeling good, I take full advantage of the day. But If I’m feeling down, I don’t fret. I just lay low and re-energize for tomorrow.

In telling my story, I hope to inspire others to overcome personal life challenges. I hope to encourage others to dig deep and find the positive in every situation. When life deals you a bad hand, play hard and play to win.

Stay tuned for more stories about Scott’s battle with stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma.