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When I got that prognosis, I felt doomed.
I was flying back from Hawaii. I felt a little bump behind my collarbone. I really didn't
give it much thought.
I made an appointment to go see my everyday doctor and he said, "it doesn't look like
much, but let's check it out." And he sent me to another doctor. This doctor proceeded
to deliver a very gloomy prognosis. I had a year, maybe two if I responded to whatever
the treatment was. He systematically removed all hope. I was shocked.
So, I went back to see my doctor and he mentioned Dr. Wakelee, he said that she was the head
of thoracic oncology at Stanford University, and would I consent to go see her.
When he came in, he had very advanced stage three B lung cancer. Many people believe that
once it's already spread into the lymph nodes like that, that there's no hope and so, we
work hard to, to try to overcome that as we had to with Tony and let them know that there
When I talked to Dr. Wakelee, I didn't feel doomed anymore. In the first minute that I
talked to her she said, "Oh, we cure people like you all the time," and when do you want
to start treatment?"
For Tony, the reason we picked the chemotherapy and radiation was that he had stage 3b lung
cancer. So, with this area and those, surgery doesn't really play a role. Radiation is critical,
but adding the chemotherapy to the radiation is far more effective.
It was trying. It was very trying.
It was hard. It was definitely hard treatment.
I kinda knew that the treatment was working, because this bump went away almost, like,
within, like, the first month.
He's now over four years out and you know, very hopefully cured.
In the last decade there's been so many advances in how we treat a lot of different cancers,
particularly lung cancer.
The main changes have been in the way that we can focus the radiation and minimize the
spill over radiation to the surrounding organs, and that allows us to get the dose where it
needs to go while minimizing the side effects.
We can also analyze the DNA of the tumor and identify specific mutations that may predict
response to certain drugs.
That's something that we now do for every patient that comes in where we have enough
tissue, and so, that's who we really can target the treatment in a different way, and that's
all new science. That was not known at all 10 years ago.
It's great to be able to, to talk to someone who's newly diagnosed and say, "You don't,
don't give up hope. We have these to offer you now that we wouldn't have had five years
ago. Just imagine what we're going to have in another year or two. So, let's work on
this together and figure out a way to help you live, and be a part of those new discoveries."
It's just a miracle. I don't know how else to describe it. I just -- here I am.
I've been given a reprieve. And I'm flying to Hawaii with my reprieve.