RichardH's Journey with Lung Cancer

Patient: Lung Cancer

Patient Info: Living with cancer as a chronic illness (undergoing adjuvant therapy), Diagnosed: over 16 years ago, Male, Age: 60

  1. 1
    over 3 years ago
    RichardH's Avatar



    Dear Friends and Family, Today is my 13th anniversary since being diagnosed with lung cancer. I have been on a Pfizer clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering since February 2016. I am happy to report my last brain MRI was clear and the CT scans showed the small tumor is still stable. This year my favorite word is gratitude. I am feeling tremendous gratitude for Dr. Mark Stoopler and Dr. Roger Maxfield at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia, Dr. Mark Riely at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dr. Alice Shaw at Massachusetts General and Dr. David Walshin at Stamford Hospital for their guidance, encouragement and care. It definitely takes a village to keep me alive. This year, I struggled for the first time with pulmonary issues and a body beaten up by 13 years of cancer treatments. I realize things may not feel so good right now but I will get through this with tremendous support from my family and friends, and there will be another positive patch ahead when I feel better. If someone asks me how were the last 13 years-was it wasted or was it a time filled with lots of happiness and joy? I would say the cancer thing was a pain but for the most part I’ve had a wonderful life. This past year was filled with two moments I could only have hoped and dreamed for 13 years ago. Chris and I were married under a chuppah stitched with “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” surrounded by friends and family. Two months later, my son, Michael got married to Genae in the most beautiful outdoor setting. I was so grateful to be there and I could be his father from birth to that day. It has been said the quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships and that is true for me. Chris came into my life four years ago, when I almost gave up on finding love again. I told him, I cannot guarantee the future and things might not go as planned. But Chris signed on for my health roller coaster ride, he never thinks of me as sick and we have a great life. I am so grateful for his love always. Please never think I have given up on life. On the contrary, I feel intensely alive. I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to spend more time with Chris and my family, to enjoy my favorite things like going to the beach or a Broadway show, to travel if I have the strength, to be an inspiration for others living with cancer and to achieve new levels of insight. I try to conclude my letters each year with a lesson learned. This year, I will quote, Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, who said to a friend reluctant about an upcoming birthday, “celebrate your birthday, goddammit. You are lucky to have each one.” My mother used to say I was like Peter Pan because I did not want to get older. Now all I want is to get older. This year, I shed my Peter Pan costume and celebrated my 57th birthday. How grateful I am. I know how precious things are in life and how we need to savor them. I hope all of you do too. For the thirteenth straight year, I will end my letter by saying: Life goes on…thankfully. Here’s hoping for many more! Love, Richard