For those that do not know this, I am a 16 year cancer survivor, and I want to share this story with you for an important reason. I hope and pray that you will read this all of the way through (especially my OB peeps).
I was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer in 1999. It was considered to be a childhood cancer that you typically get from birth to age 25. I just happened to be 25 when I was diagnosed with it. The cancer was an alveolar soft part sarcoma. The survival rate is only 20% for this cancer, and it is extremely aggressive. They have to amputate whatever it touches, or so I was told. In June of 1999, I had two surgeries, one to remove the tumor and the second to amputate a large section of my back muscle on my left side, (both performed by Robert Foster’s dad, Dr. Mike Foster of Cedar Hill Farms at Baptist DeSoto). My oncologist told me that I would never have a full range of motion on that side again and would need physical therapy for a long time. A panel of doctors convened in Texas to determine what my treatment plan would be (since most doctors will never see a case like mine). I did radiation 5 days/week for 8 weeks. I was young, single and living on my own in Southaven. It was a challenge to say the least, but I have beat all of the odds and have a full range of motion on my left side. An experience like this changes you for the rest of your life in ways that people cannot understand. For this reason, I am extremely empathetic to those battling the disease and especially those still trying to make it in the real world by keeping up with a full time job, family and the like.
Recently, I had to go to the West Clinic for my yearly cancer check up. As I was sitting in the waiting room, I received a call from a friend of mine. As I hung up the phone with this person, something hit me like a ton of bricks! I realized that my friend and I had never discussed either of his battles with cancer. I suppose his calling me while at the oncologist’s office opened the door for that discussion.
My friend had recently been accused by his boss of calling into work sick and then leaving to go hunting instead. A few other co-workers had accused him of failing to report to work as instructed, and others in the community accused him of not being sick at all. They acted as if he had made this story up to get out of his new work assignment. I guess no one cared enough to ask HIM what the truth was. Living in a small town, gossip travels around very quickly. The rumors and accusations swirled, and all I could think of was the cancer he was suffering from, his surgery and his actual health status.
What no one seemed to know was that my friend was suffering from extreme hypertension and a cancer reoccurrence. He had a baseball sized tumor that had been removed in 2002, and he had almost let it go too long. Luckily, he survived, but in 2013, it came back. Being an extremely private person, he kept this between him and those that were the closest to him. Even with the gossip spread by co-workers, he kept his health situation to himself, and this has bothered me for quite some time. He doesn’t care what people think about him, but I do.
You never know what struggles a person may be experiencing. You never know what a person may be battling. And just because you aren’t aware of it, doesn’t make it any less real. Once cancer has entered your body and your life, it never goes away even when it does. Thoughts will always linger of the possibility that at any time our life can be gone in an instant with its return. When you have a family to support and especially children depending on you, the worry and fear can’t help but creep their way back into you (no matter how strong you are).
I am sorry that my friend had to go through his cancer reoccurrence, surgery and extreme hypertension while others chose to spread gossip about him. I am sorry that his family has been negatively impacted by the lies. And most of all I am sorry that the majority of people never cared to ask HIM what was going on. They never asked if he was OK. I am sorry for his family who all went through this with him in silence, respecting his privacy and wishes. I am sorry that this world seems to have lost any heart it ever had and cares little for actual truth.
My friend is a true survivor! I admire his resilience and strength so much. His name is Scott Samsel, and he is a 2 time cancer survivor. I just felt this was an accomplishment worth mentioning and a truth that needed to be told.