Dave Hixson, Cancer Survivor – Seven Years Out Living (and Hiking) with Zeal
In 2012 I find myself approaching my seven year anniversary of being a “Head and Neck Cancer Survivor”, (May 2005 detection, June surgery, August radiation completion), I give thanks for each day I am given. I now know the value of life. Of what is truly important.
I will be forever in debt to the exceptional treatment I received that allowed me to reclaim my life. The efforts of my surgeon – Dr. Sinha, MD and his team at USC; of Brenda and the wonders she worked with speech and swallowing therapy; as well as Dr. Simko, MD, radiologist, and his staff at Torrance Memorial.
Over this Memorial Day week-end, Mary Beth (my dearest friend and life partner) and I, as we always have done for the past ten years plus, joined our Sierra Club hiking group at Zion National Park. If you never been there I urge you to visit this wonderful and spiritual place.
While I was there this year I got to thinking back to the Zion trip we took in 2005, one week before my cancer surgery. The beauty and tranquility I experienced there helped to give me strength and a will to face what was so rapidly coming upon me. I knew then that I wanted to return to this wonderful place … to see it again, and again, and again. But to do that I needed to find the will – courage – sinew – determination – and stamina to fight my cancer, to fight it with all my strength, to win.
Fight it I did. It was difficult … let not fool ourselves. There were many dark days. But I had “reasons” to wake up every morning, reasons to follow my medical team’s regiment and a determination to “fight on”.
Then, as I regained my strength, I received my reward for not giving in! I was able to hike the following year after my surgery and radiation.
The first two pictures from our trip this year are from the West Rim Trail. While hiking West Rim we came upon a cluster of “Blue Dicks” which seemed to be almost artificial but I assure you they are real, the colors are spectacular and in bright sunlight.
This year, as always, we enjoyed perfect weather conditions. A group of fifty Sierra Club members went on several hikes including a day hike in Bryce Canyon (final photo). I had the privilege of leading some of the hikes.
I never forget those that helped along the way, including the camaraderie of our Head & Neck Support Group and the ever attentive Dr. Sinha and his staff at USC.
May Beth and I have a new motto – which is: “Quality of Life” matters. My hiking adventures are the best example I can offer that it works!