Cancer Warrior: The face of hope

by Jill Kincaid
Today I’m here to tell you a story about Paul, a man who contacted me recently about becoming a Chemo Buddy volunteer. He was anxious to get started and didn’t want to wait until our next official training session.
So Paul and I set up a time to meet, and I was curious to learn what gave this man such a sense of urgency.
As it turned out, Paul is a survivor. Not just any survivor, but a miracle survivor.
A walking miracle who knows just how precious each day is, and isn’t willing to let any moss grow under his feet, as the saying goes. A real Carpe Diem kind of guy. The guy we all wish we could be if we weren’t so busy and overwhelmed by life.
Yes, Paul is a walking, talking living life lesson for me. Life is precious, do we make each day count? Or let the days run into weeks, and then months, of things we wish we had done?
Paul is a young guy (at least by my standards) and he went to his doctor to get a prescription for Lamisil. Pretty routine stuff, but as a precautionary measure, they run a liver function test. No worries, right? BOOM. The blood test showed that Paul had liver cancer. And suddenly toenail fungus was the least of his worries. His entire life was transformed with that diagnosis because the oncologist gave him little hope… as in a 20% survival rate. Meaning 80% of the people who have what you have, die.

I’m not sure how I would have reacted to that news. I may have been tempted to skip the horrors of chemo and just live out the rest of my life trying to complete a bucket list.

But not Paul. He opted for a very aggressive 48 week chemo. A poisonous treatment that would make him sick for the rest of his limited time here… unless he beat it. What a gamble.
Midway through Paul’s treatment, his father was also diagnosed with liver cancer, and his father quickly passed away.
Grieving, funeral home, cemetary, all while hanging on to the edge of a cliff fighting for your own life.  At this point, I’m sure I would have given up. But not Paul.
With steely determination, Paul continued his treatment and never gave up hope.
I am happy to tell you that this gamble paid off. Paul completed his chemo and his scans have been cancer free for the past 6 months. Paul has beaten a 80% chance of death diagnosis and today is a beacon of hope for all of our patients, because Paul, who went through chemo alone, is giving back.
This man, who should want to be as far away from a chemo room as humanly possible, is spending one of his two days off each week as a Chemo Buddy… meeting patient needs and spreading hope where he can.
What a man. What a hero. A warrior survivor.
We love you Paul!
Chemo Buddies is a 501(c)3 non profit organization that is made possible through private donations by people like you.