What is your name?
How long have you been living with GIST?
Since Oct. 11, 2011
What was your first thought when you were diagnosed with GIST?
I said to myself I’m going to beat this beast I’m to crusty to let cancer get me. I have four beautiful grandchildren I need to see grow up and by God I will.
What do you do?
I am a retired steelworker. I worked at Armco Steel Corporation in Butler, Pa. Since retirement nine years ago I do anything I want. I spend as much time as I can with my Chris, my wife, family and my four beautiful grandchildren.
I am very busy taking care of our home and helping out my son-in-laws when they need a helping hand around their homes. I love to be outside and spend a vacation week in Ocean City, Maryland. We love the beach. I do protect myself from the sun and that’s hard since I am a sun lover. I do use sun block and at the beach stay under the umbrella most of the time.
How are you doing now?
My life spun around 360º when I was diagnosed with GIST just as it does for all cancer patients. GIST does not define me as a person, but it has given a new meaning to my life which in a weird twist is one positive out of it. I know the value of life and truly know what is important. What I’m saying is, I don’t take life for granted as many of us do.
I am very well and generally feel good for a 66 year old. I do have a bum knee for which I see an orthopedic surgeon . A steroid shot made my knee feel so much better. My left shoulder and arm hurt sometimes, but hey, these aches and pains pale in comparison. I’m also very lucky that Gleevec does not give me any severe side effects.
I had my 4 month PET/CT and blood work done on July 30 and I’m NED, thank God. My oncologist has moved my check- ups to 6 months from 4 months so he is very happy with my progress. My two year anniversary is Oct. 11. I have a lot to be grateful for. Yes, I know two years, but hey two years is better then no years. I will be staying on 400 MG of Gleevec and there are no plans to stop it.
GIST is called a “rare” cancer how do you feel about that term being applied to you?
This is an interesting question. If you knew me then you would know that labels don’t effect me . We are all more then the sum of any label. So “rare” really doesn’t mean that much to me . I have always been a ½ bubble off so I guess I can have a rare cancer.
GIST doesn’t make you rare…but what makes you unique?
We all have talents and traits that set us apart from each other. Since becoming a GISTER and being a survivor I have to pay it forward and I’m happy to help anyone that I can and this truly makes me happy.
I belong to the group Pittsburgh Cure Sarcoma which has a 5K walk/run every July at North Park in Pittsburgh, Pa. This July we raised in excess of $138,000 and I’m so proud of that especially for a three year old grass roots volunteer group.