Mark (left) and his brother Steve when he received this prophetic fortune cookie message.
Over the weekend, my husband and I saw the wonderful movie, True Grit. I was curious, so I looked up the definition of grit and found this: “firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck.”
“Grit” was what the young character in the film used to describe Jeff Bridge’s Rooster Cogburn, but she embodied it, too. Despite all odds and many obstacles, she never gave up on finding her father’s killer.
Grit is certainly an attribute all of the people who shared their stories in From Incurable to Incredible and this blog. They never give up, no matter what. Mark Williams is another “miracle survivor” who displays this quality. Here’s his story:
About three years ago, I felt a lump in my neck. There was no mole or marking; just a lump. After a CT scan , biopsy & PET scan, I was given devastating news:. I had metastatic melanoma, stage IV with 14 tumors in my lungs and upper body.
The first doctor I saw basically said I was done and that nobody lives very long with this. I went home very depressed. But my wife made me stay optimistic, and soon was able to see the finest doctor I’ve ever met. He saw me on his day off, so already I knew he was someone special. He told us about treatments and that there is hope!
I chose Interleukin 2, a type of immunotherapy that increases the production of white blood cells, as my first line of defense. In a strange twist, I received the treatment at a hospital on the street I grew up on as a child. I started IL-2 in November ‘07. It was tough as everything I heard about it, but it was manageable. I was still able to take eight doses, then went back two weeks later to complete my second cycle and was able to increase my doses to 10.
My doctor again came in again on his day off (New Year’s Eve) to give me the good news! The tumors had shrunk over 50 percent, and the ones in my lungs seemed to have disappeared.
While waiting for the scans, we went out for Chinese food with my brother and his family. When I opened my fortune cookie, it said, ”You will soon witness a miracle.”
I continued with treatment, and had clean scans for six months until they found a hot spot in my right side. My doctor assured me it was just a bump in the road. They removed 50 lymph nodes and gave me 25 rounds of radiation. That was two years ago, and I’ve had no evidence of disease since.
The three most important things I’ve learned
1. Take it one day at a time.
2. Every day is a gift.
3. Don’t stop believing!
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