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Ted's Story: A New Life After Lung Cancer

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Ted Fish, a lung cancer survivor, pictured below with his family, shares how his life changed dramatically after he was diagnosed at age 46.
Ted Fish and Family 
December 20, 2006 was a typical day trying to get everything completed at work, shop for last minute Christmas presents for the kids, decorate the house and prepare for our families to visit over the holidays.

I had been experiencing strange sensations on my right side for several months. All of these sensations I attributed to a pinched nerve. I spent some time seeing a physical therapist with no results. The symptoms were getting worse. I called my doctor and explained the symptoms which prompted him to order an MRI, just to be safe.
 
I was 46 years old, never smoked, worked out religiously and ate healthy. The last thing on my mind was that something serious was going on.
 
A Diagnosis No One Wants to Hear

Within a matter of three hours, my life changed dramatically. I had a massive brain tumor that was hemorrhaging. I was admitted to the hospital and had the neurosurgeons scheduling a craniotomy for the next day.
 
In preparation for surgery, tests were completed and revealed that I had a tumor on my lung. One hour later, the diagnosis no one wants to hear; Stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to my brain.
 
At that point, my thoughts were to pray for another day to be with my family and tie-up all the loose ends. I struggled on what to tell my kids. I did not want to disrupt their lives… I couldn't imagine how it would impact them.

My emotions really started to overwhelm me when I had to tell my immediate family it would be best to come to Madison before my surgery. There was a chance it might be my last good bye. I did not know what to expect, but up to that point, it had not been good.
 
All my family gathered around my hospital bed as I waited for surgery, we all cried saying what could be our last words. My kids each gave me a special memento. Nick gave me his blue blanket that I took into surgery, Christian gave me a mini baseball bat and ball, and Kylie gave me her own personalized golf ball. All were the best gifts I've ever received.
 
A Promise to Never Give Up Hope

My wife and I told the kids exactly what was happening. We promised we would not lie to them, good or bad news. We just had to take it day by day because it was something we couldn't control. I promised I would never give up, hoping to be back in a few hours.

Today, almost two and a half years later, after surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and maintenance chemotherapy, I feel very blessed to be alive. This is my new life, taking it day by day, doing whatever I need to do to fight the sickness, spending as much time with my kids, that is as much as they will spend with "old" dad. From day one, I have never asked "why me?" I am blessed to be alive and believe everything has a reason.
 
A Center for Inspiration

The UW Cancer Center has been an inspiration. The caring, support, medical staff, facilities, and banana bread in the morning are always there to give cancer patients and their supporting family members the best experience possible. The UW Cancer Center is one of the best in the world focusing on all cancers.
 
Because of the low funding for research on Lung Cancer, and it being the number one killer among the cancers, they have organized a task force to raise $4 million in the next three years. The lung cancer medical staff has invested their own personal time to raise the necessary funds to launch their first Lung Cancer Research Center. I hope you can help. Please support this cause.