I was born and raised in Chestertown, Maryland, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I moved to Great Falls 19 years ago when I was offered a position at as the Pastor of Discipleship Ministries at First Alliance Church in Great Falls. When I was 49 years old, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin follicular lymphoma (stage 4, grade 1) in August of 2020. I had a bulky posterior mediastinal mass (i.e. a tumor) causing a large pleural effusion on my right lung. My lymphoma was discovered by accident when I had a CT scan to diagnose a kidney stone. My only symptom of having cancer was a persistent cough and shortness of breath that presumed to be the result of chronic sinusitis. I underwent six months of combined chemotherapy and immunotherapy. I completed the final round of treatment at the end of January 2021.
I live in Great Falls, fairly close to the Clinic, in fact! I was, and still am, blessed by a tremendous amount of support from my family and my church community. My wife was able to drive me to my appointments when I was not able to drive myself, and people from our church provided meals, prayed for us, and supported us financially and emotionally. I have found that a support network is vital to the treatment and healing process, which is why the work of the Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation is significant for those who may not have the same level of support I have had. I just recently learned about the important work of the Legacy Foundation. While I was not helped by the Foundation personally, I believe it is extremely valuable resources, especially for those who live outside of our community and who need housing and support through the treatment journey.
Receiving care during COVID-19 was hard, and the most difficult aspect of COVID-19 for me was that my wife could not be with me for most of my treatments due to the protocols designed to keep the other patients safe. Also, I had to delay my last treatment a couple of weeks when my son contracted COVID-19. Thankfully, I did not get sick myself and my son’s case was mild and treatable at home. Nonetheless, the delay when I was so close to the finish line was disappointing. I am deeply thankful for the caring and competent staff at the Great Falls Clinic Legacy Cancer Care. My oncologist, Dr. Guter, and all the nurses and staff in the office and infusion center were sensitive and responsive to my many needs and questions, and showed me such compassion through a frightening and uncertain time in my life. I felt seen, heard, and genuinely loved throughout my treatment journey with the Great Falls Clinic.