I had just returned home after being hospitalized for jaundice and blocked bile ducts. As a huge Jets fan, I was watching the Jets play in the AFC Championship game when I heard the phone ring. It was my doctor, who told me that the test results showed I had a malignant tumor. I had no idea what was ahead of me.
If my neighbor, who is a nurse, hadn’t put me in his car and driven me to the hospital, I probably wouldn’t be writing this. In January of 2011, I was diagnosed with late stage gallbladder cancer that had spread to my liver. The doctor recommended a liver specialist at Sloan Kettering, one of the best cancer facilities in the world. I had surgery two weeks later to remove the gallbladder as well as a liver resection. The plan was for chemotherapy followed up by radiation. I had radiation in the fall of 2011 and I am currently on my third round of chemotherapy. Those are the hard facts. But that’s the easy part.
The hard part is my emotions...
I have gone through every stage—including denial, anger and finally acceptance. One thing I can say is that I have been 100% positive throughout. I firmly believe that it is helping me to slay this dragon. I have to look my 11-year-old son in the eye every day and I do it in a way that will give him confidence that I will be around for quite some time.
Lucky for me I have the best caretaker in the world, my wife. We have made numerous trips to the emergency room at Sloan at all hours, and despite working a physical job as a postal letter carrier, she has taken care of me as though I were her son. My positive outlook has a lot to do with her. We take nothing for granted and live each day to the fullest. I have also been lucky enough to strike up a friendship with Cardinal Dolan here in NY. He calls regularly to see how I am doing and has my son serving Mass with him as an altar server.
I have learned to smile more often, to laugh more often and to appreciate the little things. I have met some unbelievable people along the way. I walk into chemo treatments with a smile. I tell my family I love them every day. Crazy as it sounds, this disease has made me a better person. It can only help me to finally destroy this beast inside my body.