In January, 2008 following a routine x-ray, I received a call from my doctor, Marty. Now, I know Marty pretty well. But a call from him at 10:00am on my cell phone, that was unusual. I could tell by the tone of his voice, the news wasn’t good.
“We need to get you in for an MRI and some other tests.”
“When?” I asked.
“Yesterday,” he replied. The diagnosis was lung cancer.
I was referred to the top thoracic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Dr. David Sugarbaker and the next nine weeks were a blur of PET scans, MRIs, more x-rays and biopsies. I was trying to move the process along quickly because there was only one thing I needed to know. If I was going to die, I needed to know how much time I had left. I needed time to make sure that my wife Lou and my family were taken care of. I needed to make sure my clients would not be left in the cold. I needed to know that I wasn’t leaving a mess behind.
The last week in March, the good doctor told me that every test did indeed point to lung cancer but…. the biopsies couldn’t get a sample to confirm. He explained that without a definitive biopsy, he couldn’t tell me what stage cancer I had, or even if I really had cancer at all. I jumped at that and asked what the odds were that I didn’t have cancer. He said that when he started medical school, one of the first lessons he was taught was if it looked like a duck, quacked like a duck and walked like a duck…it was probably a duck. He gave me a choice: do nothing and see what happens or he could go in and take a look. I asked him for his opinion, knowing full well what surgeons like to do best. I decided not to wait.
He operated the first week in April, 2008. My family gathered at the hospital and waited anxiously. After several hours, Dr. Sugarbaker came to the waiting room to tell my family that he had removed the top lobe of my lung, put it through extensive examinations and tests and, as a result informed us all that no cancer was found. “He’s a miracle man,” was his comment.
Following a couple of weeks of recovery, I returned to work. Waiting for me in the office was a box that had been recently mailed to me by Linda Austin, a great friend and the former Managing Consultant of the PFE Group. When I opened it, it was full of small rubber ducks. The note said, “You are one lucky duck.”
To this day, you will find those ducks scattered around our office, some hidden and some in plain sight. And now, we decided to add them to our website. They are my daily reminder to be thankful for every day. And I am.