John’s Story

Imagine whatever you did yesterday, an uneventful, normal day of life’s routine. But your last appointment of the day was for a nagging backache, and you were happy to finally see a doctor and get relief. Now imagine the Doctor tells you that nagging backache is a disease that— left untreated—will kill you in 6 months. That was my life in May of 2014…. The route that brought me here today was not linear and it was fraught with challenges—both those presented by my diagnosis and those resulting from my own life choices. The mind releases an average of sixty thousand thoughts per day: a mix of positive, neutral, or negative, it is those negative thoughts, which include anger, anxiety, sadness etcetera, that took hold of me as the realization of my fatal disease sent me spiraling into the worst place possible. Life is about momentum—both good and bad. When a challenging life event happens, it is essential to identify every good positive thing you can and dwell in that gratitude; let the bad/negative stuff go—early and often. The momentum of a terminal illness was a gift; my active lifestyle was a gift, my clinical trial was a gift, my complete mental health evaluation was a gift: today, I have a life that is far superior to the one I had years ago when the doctor said: You have Stage 4 Lung Cancer. It is the most challenging and lonely time of anyone’s life, one key to my survival has been finding like-minded people who are having a similar journey. By sharing our experiences, it lets you know that you are not alone and there are others having a worse experience than you are. In my life this was made possible by the Lung Cancer Initiative and through LCI, Wind River a cancer and wellness retreat program – a truly transformative experience.