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Cancer Stomach Cancer
Completed Treatment 2006
CTCA Hospital Treated at
Care Team Included
Treatments at CTCA
- Is a pastor at his church
- Officiated at his daughter’s wedding
- Celebrated 25th anniversary with his wife Patty
- Started his own business
- Attended Celebrate Life® in 2010 as a five-year survivor
- Speaks with others fighting stomach cancer through the CTCA Patient-to-Patient Network
"Cancer definitely gave me a new outlook to see what’s important, and the important thing is family and doing things you want to do."
Dean Armstrong, Cortland, OH
When I was diagnosed with stomach cancer in April 2005, it came as a complete shock. I was 48 at the time, and I thought I was pretty healthy. The biggest health problem I had was trouble swallowing. I felt like things got stuck in my throat when I ate. Otherwise, I had no pain. But my wife Patty was concerned. She got me to see a gastroenterologist. He did an endoscopy and found a nasty spot, which he biopsied for testing. When the test results came back, I got the news that it was cancer.
The gastroenterologist then sent me to a local hospital, where I scheduled an appointment for surgery. But Patty and I really didn’t like the way we were treated there. We felt like cattle…just a number.
Then on a Sunday afternoon, the week before I was to have my surgery, we got a call from my sister-in-law. She had seen a commercial for Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and thought it was a hospital we should check out. Patty and I called CTCA that day and spoke to an Oncology Information Specialist to learn more. Needless to say, we cancelled my surgery at the local hospital and decided to seek a second opinion at CTCA.
After my insurance had approved me to go to CTCA, Patty and I were on a plane to Chicago within a week to visit the CTCA hospital in northern Illinois. We soon discovered why traveling more than 400 miles from our home in Cortland, Ohio was worth it.
Fighting stomach cancer at CTCA
The experience at CTCA was so different from where I was at previously. CTCA specifically catered my care to me. All along, my doctors were very good at explaining things and keeping me informed. They told me how my tumor markers were doing, how the scans looked, etc. They spent a great deal of time with me. As long as I had questions, my doctors would stay there and give me all of the information I asked for and more. That made a big difference. They were truly concerned about me.
My treatment plan consisted of chemotherapy first, then surgery. In addition, I received radiation treatment. I appreciated how thorough my doctors were with my treatment. I remember telling Patty, “I’ve already had chemo and surgery. Why do I need radiation too?” But then Dr. Eden, my radiation oncologist, explained everything to us. He told me the cancer could come back, but if I received radiation therapy, it would reduce the chances of it returning. That’s all he needed to say to change my mind.
The holistic approach CTCA took to help me fight cancer was much more than simply treating the disease. For example, I learned about what to eat from dietitians. My naturopathic oncology provider also recommended vitamins and other natural supplements to ease treatment side effects and keep me strong. The pastoral care team at the hospital was fantastic too! They prayed with me, which meant a lot.
We were really impressed with the fact CTCA had worked with hotels in the area to set up special rates for patients. Financially that really helped, as did everything CTCA did to set up my travel. When I went through chemotherapy, Patty and I traveled to CTCA every three weeks. For the six weeks I went through radiation treatment, I stayed in the outpatient lodging the hospital offers. Staying there was helpful because it was affordable and close to the hospital. Everyone else staying there was going through cancer treatment too. We motivated each other.
Cancer opened a new door
I feel better now. Everything is good! I leaned on God and my faith to get through it. And I had great support from Patty. She was always there for me. One thing she always said when I needed to go to CTCA for treatment was, “We’re going up for chemo” or “we’re going up for radiation.” She truly went through it with me.
Cancer brought a world of change for me. For a long time, I felt stuck in my job. I felt an obligation to the people that worked there to keep things going, so I stayed. When I got too sick to keep going and managing the business, I got out of the job. Once I got better, I didn’t want to go back. There was a lot of stress and I figured I was ready to move on and try something new. Eventually I started my own business.
Cancer definitely gave me a new outlook to see what’s important, and the important thing is family and doing things you want to do. Money is not important…things are not important.
I firmly believe God still has work for me to do, and a lot of that is giving hope to other people. I am a pastor at my church. To help others, give them hope and let them know there is light at the end of the tunnel is awesome.
Since I completed treatment, I’ve gotten to enjoy some incredible moments in my life. I officiated at my daughter’s wedding. I got to walk her up the aisle, then turn around, stand up there and marry her off too. Patty and I also celebrated our 25th anniversary. In June 2010, I went back to CTCA to celebrate my five-year anniversary as a cancer survivor at the hospital’s annual Celebrate Life® event.
I continue to manage my own electronic security business, in addition to do handyman jobs and woodworking. My life is full of faith and love for my family.