In the fall of 2018, my husband and I felt like we had accomplished a lot and were “living the dream.” We enjoyed the daily rewards and challenges of interacting with our students in the classroom and raising three spirited, young children, Cline (7), Colbie (5), and Cael (2).
This dream came to an end on September 11, just a few weeks after starting the 2918-2019 school year. A simple visit to my primary care Doctor, for what I thought might be pneumonia after coughing for just a few weeks, became a nightmare. After completing a couple of x-rays and scans, I was referred to the University of Colorado Anschutz Cancer Center in Denver. In just 4 days, we were told I had stage IV Lung cancer that had metastasized to my brain, liver, lymph nodes, and scapula. We were absolutely devastated and could not have been more surprised, as I have always been in good health, active and a never smoker.
Prior to my diagnosis, I had very little knowledge of lung cancer. I never considered lung cancer could exist in healthy non smokers. In the past months our dream has become less of a nightmare. We’ve realized the benefits and fortune of being treated by an incredible team, at a hospital in our state, involved in cutting edge research. I now know the impact of this disease and experience first hand how critical research and the development of new treatments are to fighting lung cancer. Unfortunately, the funding is scarce. It is very important to me to create awareness, for my survival, as well as so many others.
I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer almost 3 years ago at age 57. I was so healthy ( I thought) that I had not had a day off sick in my entire dental career and had not seen a doctor in about 35 years. After a persistent cough that didn’t go away even after 2 months my wife finally convinced me to get a check up. The doctor did a full blood work up and exam and said I was healthy as could be, and it was probably just a leftover from a cold I’d had, and to come back in a couple of months if it hadn’t gone away. 6 weeks later I got a back pain and that didn’t go away either, so I went back to the doctor with now two problems. After a chest X-ray and then a chest CT scan and then a full body PET scan the verdict was I had stage 4 lung cancer. I was a non smoker, no asbestos, no radon, and I read that the median life expectancy for stage 4 lung cancer was less than a year even with treatment. My wife and I were stunned and devastated. After further testing it was found I had a special type of lung cancer called ALK that had some new treatments available. They started me on that and after a few months the pain and coughing were gone and the tumors were much less active. Now almost three years later I am traveling the world, doing all my favorite activities like hiking, snorkeling, and going to the gym and everyone says I look absolutely great. I just hope new research keeps discovering new treatments to help keep me and so many thousands of others like me alive and healthy. I donate a lot to research and even help select research projects that most deserve the limited funding available. Go Research!!!
On September 28, 2018, my husband and I were wed in Salida, CO. After three months of marriage I started to experience a loss of my cognitive functions and was sent in for an MRI. Several scans later it was declared stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to my brain.
At 29 years old and teaching high schoolers all about yoga, weightlifting, nutrition and mindfulness I was shocked to hear such a diagnosis. Thankfully there are medications available that will help me start this journey. However, without new research my journey could end faster than I wish it to. I am now passionate about educating others on lung cancer and the continued funds that are needed.
Life couldn’t have been any better in early 2016. My wife and I just celebrated the birth of our daughter, Grace, when I began to have vision problems. After visiting an eye doctor, I ultimately had a brain MRI that revealed I had multiple tumors throughout my brain.
After a biopsy it was confirmed that I had stage 4 lung cancer. This was very unexpected as I was a healthy 32-year-old man.
Since my diagnosis, I have been treated at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, one of the nation’s leading institutions for Lung Cancer. To date, I have undergone radiation, surgery, and two targeted therapies. There are a finite number of treatments currently available for the type of lung cancer I have.
I am doing well and am on great medication, but this won’t last forever. Now, it’s a mission of ours to increase the awareness of lung cancer and raise funds for lung cancer research.