I CAN IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT CANCER
To my family, friends & colleagues,
On March 6th, 2018, I received the news that none of us ever want to hear but, unfortunately, many do. I had stage IV Colorectal Cancer with metastases in my liver. Yes, that took a bit of time to process but thanks to some of the people closest to me, I was in front of 2 of the greatest Doctors in the world at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center by Friday, March 9th and began treatment on March 10th. I'll never forget our meetings that day with Dr. Martin Weiser, one of the great colorectal surgeons at MSKCC & Dr. Diane Reidy, our medical oncologist who, from that point forward, would be running all things treatment-related ... WOW, did we get lucky with those 2 right out of the gate!!!
Between March 10th and early August, I underwent 11 Folfirinox chemotherapy treatments with my heaven-sent angel, soon to be fiancée, & best friend Kendra Packard by my side. Coincidentally, Kendra and I were supposed to be in Vail, Colorado the weekend I began treatment and my plan was to "Pop The Question" at the Nobu out there. Suffice to say, I was thrown a bit of a curve ball - what was I to do? I took in my first chemo treatment on Saturday and followed through with proposing on Sunday, March 11th at Nobu...in NYC. SHE SAID YES!!
Upon wrapping up my 11 chemo treatments in August, we scheduled surgery which would include liver resection and liver pump installation for Sept 12th, led by The Great Dr. Michael D'Angelica and his team. Just 5 minutes into meeting with Dr. D, we knew we were in the presence of brilliance and the surgery was going to be a success. Following surgery, I underwent 30 radiation treatments throughout October to target the primary tumor in my colon, led by Dr. Christopher Crane and his tremendous staff.. you guessed it, another brilliant doctor at the very top of his field.
With a nice break throughout December, I was feeling great and was able to enjoy the holidays with my amazing family. As we entered January, it was time for another scan. This results of this one came with some challenging news. My lungs showed some signs of disease so rather than lining up liver surgery part 2 and going for the knockout punch, we turned our focus to 2nd line chemotherapy which would be Folfiri + Avastin.
As I sit here today, first line chemo & radiation have created a complete response in my colon, systemic and pump-directed chemo on my liver have been remarkably successful and 14 treatments of 2nd line systemic chemo have stabilized the activity in my lungs. The love, support and positive vibes I've received from my family, friends and doctors have made this experience truly life changing. I've never been more convinced that things like this are happening for a bigger purpose, the people who enter your life have done so for specific reasons, and that that there is a bigger message to understand. I work each and every day to increase my understanding of that and continue to make progress.
Kendra and I just completed the Bridgehampton Half Marathon on Saturday, May 11th, running with Dr. Reidy and several of her friends and have now turned our focus towards the 2019 TCS NYC Marathon when we will be representing Fred's Team. Dr. Reidy has become such an incredibly positive force in our lives and there is no way she will ever truly understand what she has done for us already...it far transcends anything medically related. For that we will be forever grateful to her and her amazing team.
Our Fred's Team name for th NYC Marathon, taking place on November 3rd, is "Onward and Upward." These are the words that Dr. Reidy uses with us whether we are dealing with great news or challenging news. I've learned that if she says it, I'm doing it. In one of her recent emails to me, she said all our training is definitely having a positive effect on my progress so "keep it up." I heard that and here we are focused on our 3rd marathon together (Kendra's 4th.. she made me say it).
I've set an aggressive fundraising goal of $150,000 for Team Onward and Upward, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to colorectal cancer research at MSKCC. The early response has been overwhelming and for that, Kendra and I are eternally grateful. What MSKCC does for cancer patients like me (and many far sicker than me) is nothing short of remarkable. I'm amazed at the incredible detail in their day-to-day/week-to-week process. It is truly a culture of helping others if there ever was one, so I will be pushing as hard as I can to give back as much as I can in order to recognize what they have done for me and sooo many others.
For all those reading my story, I thank you for doing so. For all who choose to support our fundraising efforts I'm forever grateful to you (I tend to have strong reciprocation game).
Perhaps most importantly, for all reading who are above the age of 40 and have not had a colonoscopy, GET ONE!!!! I got mine just before 50 and if I were a couple years earlier, none of this would have happened. That said, I'm not certain that I'd be happier today had it not.
If any of you feel inspired to join Team Onward and Upward to take on 26.2, come one come all - the more the merrier!
With tremendous gratitude,
KENDRA AND I GET MARRIED IN A WEEK ,, 9/14/19