Craig

Diagnosed in 2013

Craig is married, has two kids and a dog called Bill. He was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in February 2013. He works full time, plays softball every Sunday and volunteers weekly at different community events.

Do a lot of research, except for the statistics. Do not be afraid to ask your doctor 100 questions because you've got to get knowledgeable as quickly as possible to understand your potential treatment options. And be public - go public with it as soon as possible.

These are the experiences, ideas and views of each individual person featured here. Your own situation may be different and these ideas may not work for you.

Craig's Journey With Cancer

  • Diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in February 2013
  • Multiple radiation therapies in March and December 2013
  • Targeted therapy
  • Clinical trial in July 2014
  • Pulmonary embolisms September 2014 – now on blood thinners
  • April 2015. Tests show slight progression, but no treatment changes yet

Unfortunately there's only one lung cancer support group in all of San Diego. It meets on a weekday afternoon once a month, so it's not easy to get to since I'm working full time.

In terms of meeting face-to-face with other lung cancer patients, there's been very little of that from my end just because it hasn't been available. However, I did hook up with a fellow survivor through my blog and it has been a wonderful opportunity to meet in person on an occasional basis when he was in town.

Most of my communication with other lung cancer patients has been electronic, whether it's on Facebook or through blogs, or occasional phone calls.

Emotions

Lifting myself up

There are days, especially as I near upcoming tests, that "scanxiety"* kicks in. All cancer patients know what that feels like. And then, assuming the scans come back negative, everything resets itself until the next set of tests.

Having family and friends close by, and an "electronic family" within reach, has had a huge effect in helping maintain my positive outlook.

I'm still trying to maintain my motto "business as usual," which means nothing changes. At least as it relates to those things that are within my control.

I've got 500 Rotarians, all the people in my sports group, my family and friends and fellow lung cancer survivors online. I've got an enormous support group. There's been down days of course, but for the most part I've been able to maintain pretty well with that strong foundation.

*Scanxiety is a word some people with cancer use to describe the worry and anxiety ahead of a scan, getting results, or a medical appointment.

Friends & Family

I made a conscious decision that I'm not going to let this drag me down, because it would just drag everybody else down with me and I really didn't want that to happen.

I had been closely following a local newscaster who had been suffering from brain cancer who had a blog, and once I was diagnosed, I told myself that was something I had to do.

I could see what his posts were doing for other people. You could read the comments people were posting at his blog, and you could see that it was helping him and helping others who were reading it.

That was one of the reasons why I decided to be very public with my journey. Now virtually everybody I know is well aware of my journey and what I'm going through. Especially with my blog, it keeps them up-to-date without them feeling uncomfortable about asking me all the time. It's just been a very positive thing for me to have gone that public that quickly.

The support I've received has been amazing and has had a huge effect on my positive outlook.

I've come to grips with the fact that it is what it is, and I'm going to have to deal with it. I look at it a day at a time, or in some cases, six weeks at a time in between tests.

Health & Fitness

I think exercise is really important for reducing stress levels, if nothing else. I've been playing softball in a local group for almost 33 years, so everybody knows each other. The camaraderie is awesome. They are all well aware of my situation since I've been extremely public with it from day one with my blog, so everybody is always asking me how I'm doing.

It's a wonderful support group and softball is kind of secondary to just socializing with the guys, and, of course, having a beer afterwards.

I keep trying to return to daily workouts at the gym but because I am still working full time, I just haven't gotten back on track.

Diet & Nutrition

I've always eaten reasonably healthy but I've never intentionally gone out and made sure I had a specific diet or ate from certain food groups.

Initially I made all these really healthy smoothies with kale and carrots and such like. I did that for about two weeks, and it just kind of fell by the wayside. But my new Vitamix blender has been put to good use making some awesome margaritas.

I bought a couple of books on healthy cooking for cancer patients, but I haven't even opened them.

So honestly, nothing really has changed in terms of my diet. I can't say that it probably wouldn't be a good thing but again, I haven't eaten unhealthy - I just haven't changed. I still like my carbs, and a glass of wine with friends, and a beer on softball days.

Travel

We've been very fortunate to go to Hawaii every year for the last six years. Lots of golf, good eats, libations, and a ton of needed downtime.

I was volunteering every summer at a summer camp for kids - with cancer, ironically enough - since 2006, but the last two summers I just haven't had the stamina to be able to manage that. Of course my involvement would have meant being in a cabin with ten 10-year-old boys for five days. So it would have taken a LOT of stamina. But that's probably the only situation where I've felt like I had to cut back.

Work

My colleagues

I told them as soon as I was diagnosed as I didn't want to hold anything back and let them wonder. I am still working full time and my coworkers have provided amazing support.

I made a conscious decision upfront to be very open with my journey. I'm a member of a large Rotary club here in downtown San Diego and they asked me to give the inspirational speech about a week after I was diagnosed.

I stood up in front of about 250 people and the support was just amazing. They gave me a standing ovation - the whole nine yards. It's been wonderful to have that kind of support, but I wouldn't have it if I hadn't been public with my journey.

Finances

Retirement

Retirement came a little bit more to the surface for obvious reasons, and last year we finally engaged a financial planner who was recommended to us by some good friends. So we turned pretty much everything over to him.

It's more of a day-to-day, year-to-year look at it right now to see where we're going to end up. I've pretty much had my investments and never really did anything with them, so now I have somebody actively looking at them and helping us.

We've been very fortunate to have excellent health insurance through my wife's job so there has not been a financial hit as a result of my treatments and drugs.

Get your books in order and unless you're doing your own financial planning, I highly recommend getting somebody else to manage it for you because that's just one more thing you don't want to have stressing you out.

Craig's Perspective

It's very important that people try and maintain a semblance of normalcy, whatever that new normal is for them, as much as possible.

Ignore statistics. When you are first diagnosed, you can't ignore them. But you quickly realize that statistics are several years out of date, and they combine everyone together no matter what age or medical condition.

So much is changing so quickly now in terms of potential treatments that I just try and stay ahead of the wave and hope a new treatment comes along when my last one quits working.

Be very public with it.

Don't believe everything your doctors tell you. You have to be your own advocate so be sure to question anything that does not quite seem right.

Do a lot of research, stay away from statistics, ask a lot of questions, and get into a support group as quickly as you can, whether it's an electronic one or a local in-person one.

Maintain hope and a positive attitude. A poor attitude will not be of any benefit to you or those around you. But an upbeat one will draw positive vibes and I am a true believer that it has a significant effect on the healing process.

Back to top