Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Keys to beating cancer are in faith, family and friends

From the Boyertown Relay for Life Survivors' Ceremony speech by Don Seeley. Don Seeley is The Mercury sports editor and a cancer survivor.

February 17th, 2005 … around 10:40 that morning, I received a telephone call that my sister — who had been battling cancer for four years — had died. Exactly four hours and five minutes later, I listened to a doctor tell me I had stage four cancer of the throat and neck … listened to him tell me "It doesn't look good."

That very moment — like every one of you here this evening who have or had cancer — my emotions ran the gamut. The next few hours are still a blur to me, but I do recall getting in my car and taking a ride just to think.

I have no idea why, but I remembered being so sick when I had the chicken pox, the measles and the mumps growing up, remembered the pain when I broke my arm in first grade, broke my collarbone in fourth grade, and then when I had blood clots removed from my leg in fifth grade.

I remembered being so worried about playing basketball my senior year in high school after I had a tumor removed from my neck, remembered being so worried about not being able to play baseball for a good part of my last year in college when I tore a tendon in my throwing arm.

I thought, "Isn't it funny how a short 'before-I-go-to-sleep' prayer, your mother's and father's care, and all those doctors and nurses get you through all the sickness, get you through all the injuries. I remembered smiling then, after admitting to myself that cancer — especially stage four cancer — was going to be a bit more than a high fever, aching muscle or broken bone.

I realized I was scared … scared as hell.

But over the next seven months, that fear — the fear of going through what I'd seen so many others go through, and that fear of

dying — vanished.

Vanished … thanks to my faith, my family, and my friends.

I found a lot of comfort in prayer when nurses were poking needles in me every Monday for eight weeks of chemotherapy. And when I sat there for hour after hour, at times feeling like I was frozen to the bone, I found a lot of comfort in my fiancée covering me with warm blankets, in holding my hand, in just talking to me.

I found a lot of comfort in prayer when the technicians strapped me on a table and lined up this and that machine for 40 minutes of radiation, Monday through Friday, for eight weeks.

I found comfort in prayer throughout all those treatments — which, like so many of you know, make us sicker than what most people can even begin to imagine.

The treatments did get the best of me physically. Thanks to the chemo, nearly everything I put through my feeding tube came back up; thanks to the radiation frying my throat and burning up my salivary glands, I couldn't even take a sip of water.

I lost 79 pounds.

Then, thanks to surgery, I lost a jugular vein and most of the muscle mass in the right side of my neck.

The chemo and radiation, all those pills, the surgery … all of it, sure did get the best of me physically. I was a mere shadow of myself.

But cancer did not get the best of me mentally. Cancer did not come close to touching my heart and my soul, thanks to my family and my friends.

Every day, from Day One, my fiancée — Kathy — was there for me, making sure I took my medications, making sure I had the right formula for my feeding tube, making sure I was hooked up for my overnight feedings, and she was up with me throughout many nights I became ill, and up first thing in the morning to clean up all the messes I made.

Every day, from Day One, my daughters Brenda and Alison either called me or stopped by to see me — their visits made my heart smile. And my grandson Dane, four years old and full of life, gave me a dose of medicine during our Fourth of July family picnic that energized me on a day I may have been at my worst and has inspired me, to this day, to continue fighting cancer.

I didn't feel well that Fourth of July, was down in the dumps because I couldn't eat any of the food, and then I got sick. While half-asleep on the sofa in the living room, I felt someone grab my hand — it was Dane, who looked at me and said, "Pops, I want you to see me graduate from high school."

Every day, from Day One, friends called on the phone asking me how I was doing, mailed me short notes or letters of encouragement, stopped by to see me and talk with me. Their calls, their letters and their visits strengthened my soul. I was overwhelmed by their kindness and their sincerity.

It's been six years, four months and 11 days since I was told I had stage four cancer and given little hope of beating it, and there isn't a day that goes by I don't think of all the caring doctors and nurses. It's been five years, nine months and 10 days since I underwent surgery and told I was cancer free, and there isn't a single day that goes by that I don't think of my faith, family and friends.

You see, the doctors and nurses, everyone in the medical field, can kill cancer. Our caregivers help us through all the pain, all the suffering. But it's your faith, your family, your friends that can cure you — yes, cure you — of cancer.

As the theme for this Relay states, MAKE A DREAM COME TRUE — ONE LAP AT A TIME. But you cannot make a dream come true with a lap around the track, with a financial donation, with a commitment to fight cancer one weekend a year.

Do what the true meaning of this event is … RELAY.

Relay prayer, relay the love and care of family … even if you're not related — and relay friendship. Relay with a passion. That will make a lot of dreams come true; that will help cure us of cancer.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

Relay for Life of Boyertown
Relay for Life of Boyertown's Facebook page



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