Bruce Drewniany’s cancer journey has taken him from the depths of despair to the joy of survival. It started in April 2015 when he passed out cold on the living room floor. At his local hospital, tests were performed to identify the cause.
I had scans, and the next day my primary care physician proceeded to explain about the masses they found.
The diagnosis was thoracic cancer: cancer in Bruce’s lung and chest. “My doctor said in all his years of being a physician, he had never seen so much mass inside one person.”
On the morning of my diagnosis, my wife said it was one of the darkest days of her life.
Bruce’s local doctors said there was not much they could do and referred him to specialists at Lahey. Bruce made an appointment but didn’t hold out much hope.
You’ve heard all those stories about cancer and generally those stories don’t turn out well.
As is typical for patients with cancer who are referred to Lahey, Bruce’s test results were reviewed by a Lahey medical team in advance of his appointment. Bruce was still reeling from the thought that his cancer was untreatable. “And then I got to Lahey, where a surgeon walks through the door and says ‘I got this.’ Hearing those three words was like ‘yahoo!’”
It’s true that cancer that was considered untreatable not long ago can be successfully treated with today’s medical knowledge and advanced technology.
Bruce’s treatment started with chemotherapy to shrink his tumor, and then surgery that was performed with the help of one of Lahey’s state-of-the-art surgical robots. Bruce recalls that he was “in and out” of the hospital after successful robotic thoracic surgery.
That gave me the feeling of more time to live, more time to enjoy the family, more time to enjoy my plants and gardening.
Bruce takes great pleasure from working in his garden and draws a parallel between caring for plants and caring for himself. “Anything that photosynthesizes, that’s one of my biggest passions in life,” he says. “It kind of boils down into routines. You know that once a week you’ve got to check every plant. When you’re on chemo, you’ve got to take your vitamins and build yourself up so your body can fight the cancer along with whatever medicine is fighting it.” Today, Bruce is proud to call himself a cancer survivor.
Every morning the sun comes up, it’s like a new chance. Lahey has given me a whole bunch of chapters in my life.