Off The Press

May 18, 2010

By Bob Taylor

To be successful, this marathon is a team sport

Bob Taylor Press sports editor

The doctor walked into the conference room and set my medical file down on the table. She had a long, forlorn look. I could tell she was not bringing me good news.

“The test results came in and,” after pausing for a second, she continued, “you have cancer.”

Now, I like to joke with my doctors. I was trying to find a humorous comeback, but nothing was coming to mind. With cancer, there just isn’t anything funny.

Finally, I replied, “Is this one of those cancers that can be cured quickly?” Already I was thinking about covering high school sports in the fall.

The doctor answered, “No. This is one of the bad ones. You have multiple myeloma.”I had no idea what multiple myeloma was at the time. Fortunately, my doctor came prepared with some literature on the disease and noted she had made an appointment with an oncologist, who would help me map out a battle plan. When fighting cancer, it’s all out warfare.

Thus began my marathon, which is how I referred to my cancer in a column almost four years ago.

The marathon is still going on, which is good news. I haven’t reached the finish line. There is no cure for this disease, but it can be treated.

Many people have lived several years after undergoing treatment. Sammamish resident Mel Stottlemyre, a former Major League pitcher and Seattle Mariners’ pitching coach, has been going strong since 2000.

Thanks to a miracle pill that I take in the evenings, most of my cancer has disappeared, but it’s still too early to say I’m in remission.

I have learned much about cancer. Yes, initially it was a setback. However, I discovered one can not be bitter if they want to get better. From day one, I have tried to keep a positive attitude, as well as a sense of humor.

Fighting cancer is a team sport, from the team of doctors and nurses to one’s family. My family has been a strong team from the start.

Give me a moment for some piety. Help from above is important. I’m not just saying it, but doctors and nurses who I have met in recent years believe that prayer is a powerful force in fighting cancer. I have been blessed with so many people praying for me.

You have to keep faith, and with a strong faith comes hope. When there’s hope, there is always a chance that something incredible will happen.

There have been many rewards for me since my cancer was first diagnosed. I have met outstanding doctors and nurses, and numerous patients of all ages. Believe it or not, I look forward to my monthly checkups at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, because it gives me a chance to meet other patients and offer them encouragement in their marathon.

And speaking of marathons, the American Cancer Society can always use people with strong legs for those Relays for Life. There will be a Relay for Life June 5-6 at Skyline High School.

Relay for Life has raised $3 billion for cancer research and cancer patients. It seems like a huge amount of money. However, cancer is an expensive disease. Transplants run several thousands of dollars. Those little miracle pills I take, well, they cost about $5,000 a bottle.

Thank God for health insurance! The sad truth is not all people being treated for cancer have medical insurance, or a plan that can cover their expenses. Often, when a patient realizes they no longer have the funds to cover the treatments, they give up.

That’s why the American Cancer Society can use every quarter or dollar that is raised. One day, scientists will find cures for cancer so that more people can win their marathon.

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