Too many times in this journey I focus on the science of my cancer, my treatments, the effect it has had on me and my family, my friends. I vent my frustrations with medications, the ups and downs of the disease and the disruption of life that it has caused us over the past year or so.
But today I want to take a moment and mention thanks to the following people, places, and things that have all helped me succeed so far in this journey. My wife Melissa has been my lifesaver and caregiver. In addition to helping me get to appointments, be on the right meds, be a pitbull for me when I was in for all my surgeries, she has taken care of our kids and provided them with stability, love, patience, and a sense of strength that they needed to see. She is my number one supporter and cheerleader and even when I used to sink to my lower mental depths, she has always been there to lift me up and remind me of who I am and what I am capable of. I love her for all that and much more. Without her, I can honestly say, I would have had a more difficult time through all this.
My team at Beth Israel, Dr. Daniel Cho in particular, a young man who fought and fought for me to get on this miraculous MDX-1106 trial and sat on my spot till my surgeries were completed. He pulled strings, fought for me, and his passion and energy helped energize me as well. I have had a ‘dramatic response’ in the program and part of is the support I have had from him and his team. It is infectious and makes me want to fight harder to get rid of the rest of this cancer to show them that their belief in me and my attitude helped push me to new heights.
My cardiologist at The Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the wonderful and empathetic Michelle Albert. This wonderful woman took a personal stake in our case and was involved in every step of the way to make sure my cardiac health did not suffer through all my treatments and surgeries. She is an amazing person (from Brooklyn also!) and I just saw her yesterday for a followup. She greeted me with a big long hug and I was so happy to see her that I actually got emotional. It’s so amazing to feel that even in these big Harvard research hospitals that I am a human being and that this woman is interested in me personally and my family’s well-being. I love her attitude and her passion for me and my case.
I never thought I would ever thank an insurance company, but Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Insurance has been a lifesaver. Everything has been covered with no issues, the copays are manageable and as recently as last week a representative from the company called me asking me if there was anything else they could be doing to help me get through all this. She asked me if I was happy with the service and I told her how thrilled we all have been so far. See, insurance companies don’t have to be cutthroat profitseekers with little regard for human life. This company has shown me a humane, kind side that is interested in my getting better with even more help. I have cost this company hundreds of thousands of dollars and they keep giving. I am thankful. I have had bad insurance policies in the past but this time, especially with the disease, this amazing company came along at the right time.
I am thankful for my parents, my sisters, and my brothers-in-law. They have extended us a helping hand many times through this ordeal by watching our kids, visiting us, providing moral support, and even extending an invitation for us to move back to NYC so that they can be there for us more often as we need help. Family support has been indespensable and I feel it every day when I hear from them asking how I am and how we are all doing. They are my cheerleaders as well and I love them all for it. All of this support can get overwhelming at times.
Finally, my friends, cancer and otherwise. Shaun T, Tracey M, Rebecca S, Liz L, and others who have been amazing supporters and beacons of light. We are all in this together and these people always have great advice and support and we can share a laugh about our situations and crazy diseases. Sometimes I run scared from other cancer patients but these folks make it easier for me to deal with the reality outside my body.
Thank you everyone! Lovefest is over.