A routine trip to my doctor for what I thought was a problem with my gall bladder led to an ultrasound, which led doctors to find a cancerous tumor on my right kidney.
I knew things were probably not going to be good when my doctor called me into his office and shut the door behind him. Once he said those three little words, the rest was kind of a blur.
A CAT scan later that afternoon confirmed the diagnosis, and two agonizing weeks later I was admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham.
In those two weeks of waiting, I went through all kinds of emotions. I was more afraid than I had been in many years.
What got me through those two weeks was the love and support I received from my wife and kids, my parents, my in-laws, my other family members, my coworkers and my many friends.
On April 26, surgeons removed my right kidney, and in doing so removed the cancer that was encapsulated inside the kidney. Five days later, I left the hospital. Three weeks after that, I returned to work.
Fortunately, because the cancer was inside the kidney, I was spared from having to undergo chemotherapy and radiation.
I have no doubt that my faith in God also played a role in helping me to make it through those two weeks prior to surgery, and to endure the recovery following it.
Today, I’m cancer-free and enjoying life.
My point in writing this is to let everyone know that had I not gone to the doctor because of what turned out to be an ulcer, the outcome could have been much different. My doctor said had it not been found, it most likely would have spread throughout my body over the next year or so.
In the words of my surgeon, it was “truly a blessing” that I had an ulcer.
Looking back, I have no doubt that I was blessed the day I heard those three words.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to have the opportunity to spend time doing something that I’ve looked forward to all summer: working at band camp.
With two kids in the band at Walker High School, I’ve volunteered my time during band camp to help with providing water and Gatorade and anything else needed for the more than 125 kids in the band. I did the same thing last year and probably enjoyed it more than the kids did.
While many people think the band just shows up at football games in the fall and plays a few songs and marches at halftime, I know different.
I know how hard the band kids at all the high schools across the state work to make sure they put on an entertaining show during the games.
They spend many hours during the summer perfecting the music and the show they’ll perform. They also practice for hours after school each day, all in an effort to represent their high school and make their friends and families proud.
When you go to a high school football game this fall, make sure you show your appreciation to them.
I know I will.
Ron Harris is the managing editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at (205) 221-2840 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.