My story begins in March, 2000 when my perfectly healthy and incredible 37 year old husband Alan was suddenly diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma or kidney cancer. After the shocking initial diagnosis, “everything was as it appeared to be.” My husband had his right kidney removed and other than having several scans a year and changing his internist to an oncologist, our life went on with no interruptions. Alan was once again healthy, we had three incredible children and life was fantastic.Then came the summer of 2009. Alan had a large lump on his right arm (he’d had it for 15 years or so), and every doctor including his oncologist told him it was a “simple lipoma,” that it was nothing to worry about, and that we should leave it alone. But that summer, Alan insisted on getting it removed. Our doctor then took another look at Alan’s arm and said “I’m not sure this is what we thought it was.”
This began our journey of “nothing is what it appears to be.” Test after test after test came back as inconclusive. Finally a pathologist diagnosed it as a “low grade sarcoma.” After surgery, the final pathology came back saying that diagnosis was wrong. Instead, Alan had “pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma.” It was a fast growing, aggressive cancer and had already metastasized to his lungs.
Within days of receiving the final diagnosis, we began chemo. When our first two treatment regimens failed miserably – the tumors in Alan’s lungs kept growing – we were forced to search for other treatment options. Pure luck and one amazing uncle led us to Champions Oncology. They discussed and debated our next steps with top experts in the world of sarcoma. They tested Alan’s cancer against different drug combinations in immune deficient mice. Their recommendations add 6-7 quality months on to Alan’s life. With that said, we eventually lost our battle and on July 12, 2010, Alan died at the young age of 47. And 8 months later, on the anniversary of my first date with Alan, I launched CancerHawk.com.
Why CancerHawk? While battling my husband’s cancer, I learned about many amazing groups whose sole purpose is to help cancer patients and their caregivers on their journey. But the challenge is finding them. How can you Google something when you don’t know what you’re searching for? To help answer this question, I created CancerHAWK.com. Some resources I knew about during our journey; others I wish I had known about. My hope is to make anyone else’s cancer journey a tad bit easier by sharing this information. Alan also used to say “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.” CancerHawk is my lemonade.