61, Pinellas Park
Raise awareness for prevention and screenings to help in the fight against cancer.
WHY I DID IT:
I was just 18 when I joined the Air Force in 1969 and was deployed to the Philippines. While overseas in the war, I began smoking heavily and continued smoking through civilian life, working in construction and roofing.
It seemed as though all of a sudden, 40 years had gone by. I was waking up every night to coughing fits and hot flashes, and decided to quit smoking and live healthier. But, it was almost too late.
A CAT scan discovered stage three lung cancer in my left lung. I never thought cancer would happen to me. My wife kept insisting that I go to my doctor, but I never had any health problems before and didn’t think anything of it. Finally I listened.
I received surgery at the Bay Pines V.A. Hospital to remove the tumor. Then I went to radiation therapy with WellSpring Oncology, where they helped get me through this difficult time.
HOW I DID IT:
When I was first diagnosed with stage three lung cancer, I thought the world would end. WellSpring Oncology was there to help me through it, physically and mentally.
To treat the cancer, doctors used an aggressive radiation treatment plan to target the tumor and not my healthy cells. They explained the benefits and risks of each treatment option and made sure I knew what to expect during treatment.
From my first day there, I was so impressed by the way they treat patients — knowing each patient on a first-name basis, like a big family. I believe that medicine is not just all about taking pills; you have to have your mind at ease too.
The staff members are unlike anything I’ve ever seen at any medical facility, providing the support to heal my body and mind. WellSpring Oncology really gave me that inner peace I needed.
Yes, I had cancer. But I feel great, and I credit WellSpring Oncology with saving my life.
One hurdle for me was that in addition to the cancer in my left lung in 2009, they found more issues in my right lung in 2012.
But the biggest hurdle for me in the beginning was trying to keep a positive attitude while going through all my treatments.
The support of my family, WellSpring Oncology and confidence in the aggressive treatment plan we chose together made the experience much easier to go through. There was a time when I just took life for granted and just felt like I’ll live forever. I know now that tomorrow could be the day when I just drop, and I have to live life to the fullest while I can.
GOING THE DISTANCE:
I wrapped up cancer treatments for my right and left lungs in 2012. Now, my focus is on spending time with my family, helping raise awareness for cancer screenings, and helping friends and family live healthier lifestyles. I became involved with WellSpring Oncology’s Giving Tree efforts, offering help and support to other families the way they helped mine.
The best advice I can give anyone diagnosed with cancer is to learn everything you can about your treatment options and pick a physician you trust. I recommend WellSpring Oncology to anyone with cancer. I can’t go back and change my ways, but now I realize the fatality of life and how life choices can catch up quicker than you think.