Exactly one year ago today, I found out that I had stage IV metastatic lung cancer that had spread to my spine. A lot of things raced through my mind when I received my diagnosis including time; time left to accomplish your goals, time left to enjoy life, and time left to spend with family. Since that day, I made my mind up and changed it many times trying to decide how to make the most of my precious time. At first, I was going to be a stay at home Dad and spend all my time with Avery. I even contemplated going back to general dentistry or doing pro-bono work, but after 3 months at home I decided that I really loved and missed surgery. I have been fortunate enough to have been diagnosed in a time where modern medicine has allowed me to extend not only my length of life, but also the quality of life from the spinal fusion that stopped my excruciating back pain to the oral medications that keep my cancer in check. Given my new lease on life, I went back to residency to finish what I started and live my dream of being a surgeon.
Fast forward to today, I am 6 months away from being a chief resident and if you looked at me you would never know I had cancer. I feel great and, for the most part, I am symptom free (sometimes I feel fatigued but it’s hard to tell if it’s from being sick or a combination of residency and having a toddler). I am optimistic of what the future holds and rarely think about the fact that I have cancer. I should not have made it to December 17, 2018 but I did and I am very grateful for everyday I have. For now I’ll cross my fingers in hopes of another year of birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays, and carousel rides with this little one.