This May Come To You As A Surprise

If you are reading my blog, odds are that we have spent quite a bit of time together, eaten together, watched a game, played soccer together, shared a laugh, gone for a bike ride, or maybe had a beer together. More likely than not, you already knew before you landed on this page today that I was a cancer survivor. I am not shy about sharing this fact. I am proud of it. Being a survivor has given me great strength and great confidence.

I have been a cancer survivor for 15 years. Fifteen years ago today, I was having a splenectomy. Two weeks later, I started radiation therapy. I know all the dates. I know all the stats. I have very specific, vivid memories . I can recall the details of this part of my life with the same ease and clarity as my wedding day and the day our daughter was born.

The last couple of weeks have been a roller coaster ride. On Tuesday, March 22nd (the day before my 38th birthday), all of these memories flashed back to 15 years ago. Michele and I were sitting in an exam room, at Johns Hopkins, with a surgeon, talking about the CT scan that I had done the day before. It was deja vu. I vividly remembered sitting with a different surgeon 15 years ago, talking about the lump in my neck.

Why did I have a CT scan done and why were we talking to a surgeon?

I found a lump. An enlarged lymph node in my groin. Last Wednesday, March 29, the surgeon performed a biopsy on this lymph node, that is sitting next to my femoral artery. This biopsy has given us the answer to what this enlarged lymph node is. And what the other enlarged lymph nodes in my abdomen, that were on my CT scan, are as well. The results of the biopsy have shown the recurrence of Hodgkins Lymphoma.

So right now we wait. And pray.

I know that this news probably comes to you as a surprise. It certainly did to me. I am in the best physical shape that I have been in since I was 18 or 19 years old. My energy level is high. I have no symptoms. None. All I had was a lump that I can feel.

And we wait. My primary thought is “I had no idea that I was going to have to beat cancer twice by the time I was 40.”

The last week has revolved around talking with my family about the situation. What have all the steps been? What is coming next? What are the doctors telling you? How are you feeling? I have talked to some of my closest friends about this. Michele has talked more friends and family. If you are reading this, please know that I understand that this is a hard thing to read about a friend, cousin, or old classmate. I wish I could talk to you about it face to face, instead of subjecting you to reading my words. But there is just not enough time in the day for me to talk to everyone in person. And talking about it so much is tiring. I hope that you can understand that.

To my new Baltimore friends, I may have seen you in the last couple of weeks. We were probably with the kids. I really could not bring myself to finding a way to get this news out while watching the fun, mayhem, and mischief that our children were involved in. It was always on the tip of my tongue, but I could not open my mouth to say the words.

I am nervous, anxious, and a little scared. I have no doubts that whatever I have ahead of me that I can handle. All in all, I am healthy and in the best shape I have been in since my first bout 15 years ago.

We are not making a whole lot of plans these days, but my goal is to be on my bike in August, riding the PMC again. This year is going to be my 5th PMC, to celebrate my 15th anniversary of being a cancer survivor and to start a new streak as a two-time survivor.

This week, I hope that I will sit down with an oncologist and start plotting out our treatment plan. I will try and keep you posted on my blog and as best I can, in person.

Thank you in advance for your love and well wishes. They are returned in full.

Love to you and yours,



14 thoughts on “This May Come To You As A Surprise

  1. Andy,
    I’m so so sorry. You’re a fighter, an inspiration, a hero. Thanks for sharing your story. I will be following and keeping you in my thoughts.
    Best wishes,

  2. Andy,

    As I wrote in an email to Michele yesterday, you’re one of the strongest people I know and your incredible love for Michele and Shannon bring you even more strength. Know that all my love, thoughts and positive energy are with all three of you while you navigate this part of your journey together.

    ❤ Jennifer


  3. Andy, hang in there and know that many many people up here are thinking of you. It will now be even more of a pleasure to ride with you it August. Hugs to your girls, too.

  4. Wow. I am sad to say that you are the third young person I know to be diagnosed with cancer in the past two months. Sending good thoughts and strength to you, Michele, and Shannon.

  5. Andy,

    I talked to Michele over the weekend and while I’m so sorry to hear this unhappy news, I’m completely floored and inspired by your optimism – AND, most importantly, I believe it. I really believe it’s the truth when you say “I had no idea that I was going to have to beat cancer twice by the time I was 40.”

    My thoughts and support are with you & Michele & Shannon. I mentioned to Michele that if you ever need a place to stay in Boston (e.g., for doctor’s appointments or whatever), our couch is your couch. Really.

    Take care,

  6. Hi Andy,
    I’m so sorry to hear of the recurrence. You have people from all over pulling for you. Sending nothing but warm thoughts to you and Michelle!

  7. YOU GOT THIS ANDY! Keep your head up and your mind focused and all will be well! Sending positive vibes your way from Minnesota!

    -The Leets in MN

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