4-time cancer survivor: ‘Don’t delay the checks’

Between 1995 and 2009, I was diagnosed with four different types of cancer. The first diagnosis didn’t really bother me. The second one hit me like a ton of bricks. The third one made me angry. And the fourth one was overwhelming. For a long time, I wondered what was wrong with me that this kept happening. And I still haven’t found a satisfying explanation. But I’m kind of shocked by how comfortable I feel discussing it now. So, maybe that’s my mission: to talk about it. How I learned I had cancer, four separate times My first cancer diagnosis came about when I was living in Los Angeles. I’d noticed a slightly discolored area on my right cheek, but ignored it for several months. It got bumpy and I could actually feel it, so I saw a doctor. A biopsy revealed it was skin cancer, and I had a few rounds of radiation to treat it. That left me with what looks like an oddly shaped dimple on that cheek, but caused me no problems otherwise. The second diagnosis came in 2003, when I developed a lump on the side of my neck. It grew to the size of a golf ball over about six months, but I blew it off, too, at first. My younger brother had had a marble-sized growth removed from his hand years prior, which ended up being a cyst. I figured mine was, too. But it turned out to be Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Luckily, chemotherapy put me into remission. My third diagnosis came in 2005, when severe back pains made it hard for me...