On October 24, 2012, I was leading a political campaign sign wave event at a busy intersection with a bunch of volunteers. While I was excited about the involvement, I felt lethargic, tired, and weak, but I pushed through because later that evening I had a meeting to facilitate.
A few hours after the sign wave event, I was facilitating a volunteer meeting when I felt a sudden, sharp pain in my abdomen followed by overwhelming nausea and sickness. Throughout the night and into the morning, I found myself vomiting two to three times per hour until I finally agreed to be taken to the emergency room. I had been experiencing abdominal pain for months leading up this day, but previous emergency room visits gave me the impression I had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When my symptoms and answers to the attending doctors questions didn’t line up, x-rays were ordered and within an hour I was told a fist-sized tumor caused a collapsed colon. I had stage 3 cancer and needed emergency surgery.
While I was in the hospital recovering from the abdominal surgery, doctors noticed a thumb-sized lump on the right side of my throat, it was biopsied, and two weeks later I learned I also had stage 3 throat cancer.