Hi, and welcome to my website, and Thank You for allowing me to share my story with you. In 2004 I was on the top of the world. I had recently married, work was going well and I was settling into my new position as a police lieutenant. I had always been into fitness and the martial arts since I was a child. I had pretty much always considered myself very healthy but soon that was going to change. During July 2004 I became progressively ill and was unable to hold any food down without severe stomach pain. This pain continued to progress to where I could not eat at all without becoming severely ill. I spent many a sleepless nights in crippling pain. I lost about 38 pounds in a one-month period. I saw several doctors, made several trips to the Emergency Room and was eventually diagnosed with a large neoplasm, which was crushing my small bowel. I underwent emergency surgery and a 6-pound tumor was removed from my small bowel during this time I hemorrhaged severely. The tumor and several surrounding lymph nodes all tested positive for Granulocytic Sarcoma. Granulocytic Sarcoma is basically the tumor borne form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. If you have Granulocytic Sarcoma you either already have AML or you’re going to get it. My first surgery did not go as planned and the wound developed an infection the week after surgery. My surgeon opened the wound in the Emergency Room and cleaned it out. This lead to weeks of packing the open wound with 4x4 bandages. This was not successful. I required another surgery in which I had a Wound Vac placed in the wound. This was not successful and I continued to develop wound tunneling which required a painful regimen of repacking the wounds twice a day with packing strips. I had been on quite an emotional roller coaster as the cancer was spreading I was not healing and I was not going to chemo with the wound the way it was. Although I never quit my will to fight was starting to be taxed for the first time. A third surgery was soon to be performed. Dr. Parikh of Temple University performed the third surgery. He promised me two things that he could get me ready for chemo and that I would have never healed without this surgery as I had a suture reaction. I entered Fox Chase in December 2004 for my first round of chemo after nearly three months had passed since my initial diagnoses. I then returned in January 2005 for more chemo and an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Mangan of the Fox Chase Temple Bone Marrow Unit. I was released in late January and was home bound until April 26, 2005. I was released and returned back to work. In March 2006 I underwent surgery #4 for a large hernia in my abdomen. Basically my abdominal muscles split and tore this was by far one of the largest surgeries yet. However I was able to return to full duty at work in June 2006.
In April 2008 I underwent surgery #5 for an incisional hernia, which I received at work while on duty. A police officer was going to get run over by a vehicle in the street and I threw him out of the way. He was unscathed me not so much. I was blessed to be able to complete my career in law enforcement and retired as a police captain on December 24, 2010. I served for over 25 years and gained great satisfaction in my career and the many fine officers I worked alongside. They along with my family and friends gave me the support to complete my career and more importantly survive my illness. In 2012 returned to police work after retirement part time and continue to serve. Retirement was not good for me I missed the job and my Brothers and Sisters immensely.
I continued to do testing yearly and return to Temple Bone Marrow Unit. Throughout the years my small bowel scarred in from my initial surgery, which led to a bowel obstruction and frequent pain. In September of 2012 I injured my hip and abdomen while picking up my father from his hospital bed. My father was suffering from Multiple Myeloma and was home on hospice. My father left us on October 03, 2012 and after his death I continued to have abdominal pain and pain in my hips. I pursued both of these problems and began to undergo testing for my hips and awaited prescriptions for testing for my abdominal pain. The studies on my hips indicated that my hips were basically bone on bone and I was a candidate for hip replacements. The pain in my abdomen has subsided and I toyed with the idea of not having the CT Scan that the doctor had ordered. I decided to get it anyway. I picked up both my reports for my hips and my CT Scan of my abdomen on a Thursday. As I began to read the report for the CT scan I learned that the radiologist had indicated I had re-staging of cancer in the area of my small bowel. My girlfriend Lori was with me and I had to read the report again and tell her frankly news I never expected.
I went to the Bone Marrow Clinic and had two bone marrow biopsies the following Tuesday and was told that based on the CT scan I had cancer again and that surgery would be that Friday to remove a mass. Dr. Mangan was very candid with me and said George I got you eight good years. I was like uh does this mean were going to go through this again in eight years? Frankly the answer was more then likely yes as I was not believed to be in remission anymore. After surgery was over I was scheduled for more chemo and another stem cell transplant. I was in a state of disbelief. I really was not scared. I just could not believe we would be doing this again. After eight years of remission I had become complacent. It took me a day or so to realize how lucky I had been and that Dr. Mangan was correct. I reflected back on how I was able to see my son grow up, see my granddaughter and spend time with all my family and friends.
How lucky was I very lucky. I was blessed with a second chance that many of my friends and so many other people never got. Surgery was performed on 11/30/2012. A tense almost two weeks followed as we awaited the pathology report. Once again I was blessed with being in remission. There was a mass that was removed however it was not cancerous. Dr. Dempsey my surgeon was able to repair my small bowel and repaired three hernias. His team had checked me about as thoroughly as they possibly could during surgery and once again a miracle. After conquering my abdominal surgery I faced the challenge of bilateral hip replacement. This surgery was scheduled to take place but was postponed due to my abdominal surgery. I had both my hips replaced March 26, 2013 and have progressed very well. While doing rehab for my hips I unfortunately herniated my abdomen again surgery would once again be in my future.
In May of 2014 I returned to the University of Pennsylvania for a complex hernia repair with component separation. This was truly one of the biggest surgeries that I had undergone. I had multiple hernias and Dr. Dempsey once again had his work cut out for him. There was also a suspicious area on my small bowel and a small bowel resection had to be performed again. Once again a hall pass on cancer however I developed wound infections were relatively serious. This resulted in returning inpatient and wound care at home for several months. I developed a large hole in my lower abdomen which required wound packing daily. This wound healed in August however my wound broke open again in September. I was on a PICC line and had surgical drains in place for several months also. I am optimistic at this point that the infection is under control but most likely I will be on suppressive antibiotics for many years due to the seriousness of my infection. Once again my will was tested and but with the help of God, my family and friends I made it through.
I credit many things to my success in my treatment. First and foremost my Family, Friends and the many people who supported me. Clearly I would not have come this far without them. Then of course Dr. Mangan, Dr. Parikh, Dr. Epstein, Dr. Dempsey and Dr. Papastamalos without them I truly believe I would not have survived this. I tried my best to stay positive and I never forgot how lucky I was. Yes I was very sick and at times things looked bad. However in the cancer game and even in life you don’t have to look too far to find someone who is worse off. I met many who were worse off but they never gave up and inspired me daily. They are the true heroes. This journey has been very difficult however many positive things have come from it as I have learned to appreciate what I do have and realize how easy it is to lose it all. I have many constant reminders of this disease however none more Omni present then memories of many of the individuals that I have been humbled and honored to have known and befriended. Cancer takes lives, destroys families and taxes the will to live and survive. It has done all that to me but I made a decision from the beginning. I fought the war guerrilla style both conventionally and unconventionally. Through modern medicine, meditation and communication with God, Family and Friends. I was not going down it was not going to be an option as I had a son and others who loved me. My son was and still is my world and I would not leave him no way no how. From the time he was very little I promised him that dad would always come home as I did every night as a police officer. I assured him this would be no different. I had a cast of Spartans at my side rallying and help me fight they also fought the battle right with me!
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have supported me throughout this fight. All the support made the difference I can assure you. For those you of you who either helped at my benefit or attended I am deeply indebted. Your kindness and assistance shall be paid forward to others!
Now with the past God willing behind us through all the chaos must come some harmony and a vision towards the future. The Randy’s Kicking Cancer Fund was established to assist others in their fight against cancer. The war on cancer takes a heavy toll on the patients, the survivors, the families and the caretakers. The Cancer Fund has been closed after several years and all the funds were donated to local charities. However a lot of good came from the fund. We were able to offer thousands of dollars of assistance to local organizations and individuals during the eight years the fund was established and running. We have had the honor of assisting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Gilda’s Club of South Jersey, The Sarcoma Foundation, Shelby Richter Fund, Kaitlin Anzelone Foundation, Temple Bone Marrow Clinic, South Jersey Cancer Fund , Breathing Room Foundation and several individuals and their families. We have offered substantial financial support to these organizations for all they do for others. These organizations all offer support to those suffering from cancer and their families. Battling cancer is in every sense of the word a WAR we were proud to support the troops in the WAR AGAINST CANCER!
I was only able to do this with the Help of God, my family and my friends! Cancer truly does suck! I have lost many family members and friends to cancer. Both my mother and father died of cancer. In doing so I had to learn how to navigate the health care system. I was responsible for much of their care and I came to understand both sides of the bed. I can't reiterate how important it is for families that battle cancer to advocate for themselves and educate themselves. You need to ask what is out there in the way of treatment. Be candid with your doctors. Ask them what would you do if this was you? Knowledge is important as well as advocating for yourself and your family's care. There are options for care plans and they should be researched. You need to trust your doctors so you need to do the research to find the medical professionals that you can trust! Most importantly you need to fight as giving up should never be an option!! Attitude is everything when fighting this war!