Healthy Living: Patient brings awareness to rare cancer
A local man, recently diagnosed with one of the rarest known forms of cancer, is telling his story so others can be be aware. Tim Wesley of Penfield says his deadly cancer almost went unnoticed. YNN's Geoff Redick has the story.
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"The end of my appendix grew a tumor...and it exploded,” said Tim Wesley. "I'm routinely on... Zo... Zophran?"
"You know, my reaction was, 'that's not – that can't be happening,” said Denise Wesley, Tim’s wife. "And then we went into a mode of...'How do we fix you?'"
"That's where we've been ever since, just one mission. Forward,” Tim said. “How can we get this better?"
It's a new day, and Tim is back at the hospital.
"We'll be back in about a week and a half, so we may see you."
Another round of blood testing for the rare cancer that took over his body and stopped life as he knew it, in its tracks.
"Appendicial cancer, and I guess my trials and tribulations over the past six months."
Warning signs were subtle last March. The cancer almost went unnoticed.
"I didn't have any loss of weight; I had no loss of appetite; my energy level during the day was fine."
But inside, cancer spread from Tim's appendix, to major organs.
"He was taken to the operating room, where on the surgery they found cancer. And his, unfortunately, had spread to the abdominal cavity, which is what we typically see with appendicial cancer,” said Dr. Mohamedtaki Tejani, University of Rochester Medical Center.
Tejani has worked with Tim since diagnosis. Initial rounds of chemotherapy helped slow the cancer down. Tim and Denise, on their own, sought out a specialist and with aggressive surgery performed in Baltimore, doctors were able to remove all of the cancer. Though painful and frustrating, Dr. Tejani says Tim's experience has one hallmark setting him apart from other cancer victims.
"From the get-go, both Tim and Denise were very proactive about this. Certainly there was a period of coping, but once they got through that, what they decided to do was meet this head-on,” Tejani said.
The two have started a foundation, called Be uninTIMidated: raising money for appendix cancer research, and alongside the books and papers, Tim and Denise have discovered one other fact of life:
"This has all given me a chance to appreciate a lot of the finer things, that perhaps I was maybe – not skipping by, before, but maybe taking for granted."
On this day, and every day now, Tim makes sure he's home and at the end of the driveway, when his kids get off the bus.
"You don't think about something as small as, being there to get your child off the bus, and how much that really means to them,” said Denise. “It means a lot to them."
Sometimes, there's good to be found too, in the things that almost go unnoticed.