Survivor says: ‘Thank you for The Ride’

By Robert Knox
Globe Correspondent / July 31, 2011

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When my colon cancer was discovered 14 years ago, doctors had my body searched with a CAT scan, just in case. As it happened, they found another little demon, which had settled into one of my organs and might have taken pieces of me I couldn’t afford to lose if the scan hadn’t tipped them off first.

When I was recovering from abdominal surgery, nurses gave me a morphine pump for pain and IV drips with saline solution to keep my systems functioning until my body rediscovered how to digest food. While my insides knitted themselves back together, doctors were investigating whether my lymph nodes were cancer-free. Happily they were.

I was afraid of the word chemotherapy. But improvements had been made, my oncologist told me, and I was unlikely to suffer nausea and loss of appetite from the drugs they had in mind to prevent the recurrence of my mystery cancer. They were right. I had some cold symptoms, but no heavy side effects. After five years of follow-ups, they told me to stop coming back.

Recently, when a routine blood test showed alarming results, a team of doctors and technicians rolled in a new campaign to contest cancer’s claim to a little piece of my insides it had begun to colonize. The prostate lives in a crowded neighborhood, and a careful approach is needed. Part of the answer is hormone therapy - interesting side effect: hot flashes. Then come the big guns of radiation therapy, aimed at minutely calibrated targets.

Someone had to develop all these treatments, these tests, these surgical techniques, these drugs, and the newer, improved versions of all these therapies. Someone has to design and build these machines. Someone has to operate them. I owe all these someones, big time.

And someone has to raise the money for all of this to happen.

When I spoke to the riders in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, who year after year raise funds to treat patients and research new treatments and cures, it occurred to me that I have already benefited and continue to benefit from the actions of just such people as these. It seemed only appropriate that I should say, “Thank you.’’