My Cancer Story

In the fall of 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 rectal cancer. Below are the posts that I wrote through the diagnosis and treatment process.

While I would not wish this journey on anyone, it has been one of the very gifts of my life.

I hope that as you read the different parts of my cancer journey linked below it will be of value to you. If you have a friend who is going through their own health or other personal crisis, please feel free to share it with them in hopes it may help them as well.

After the 22nd post, you'll notice there is a void in any further information. The fact is, once I could get back to regular life, I jumped back in to work, but also a massive move to our new home in Western New York. But, I want to let you know that I had a great ostomy reversal surgery, and subsequently, my ongoing tests have been good with strong, positive indicators. My doctors have reminded me that it will be important to maintain frequent testing through the 2 and 5 year marks, which are the two critical dates.


#1 A Messy Concoction of Uncertainty, Dread and Fear

The call came at around 12:50pm last Thursday. Dr Deabes announced himself and my heart started to beat fast. “How are you feeling” was his first question. I responded positively. But that was not the intent of the call. I knew that. “A couple of things,” he said. “The blood tests were unremarkable.” He went…
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#2 MRI Required

Just got home from the meeting with Surgeon. We learned a lot about the most likely options and paths, but still more testing is required to know what specific stage of cancer it is. Essentially, that means they need to determine how much, if any, it has spread within the rectum and lymph nodes. This…
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#3 Os-to-me….. Ostomy

Mandy welcomed Becky and I into her small treatment room. We’d been told by the lady who checked us in that she was the “angel” in this department. Becky sat on the treatment bed. I stood. The air seemed heavy and and the walls felt close. After some initial hello’s we got right to the…
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#4 The Diagnosis

After a full week of scans, testing and meetings with doctors, the verdict, though still inconclusive, suggests that I have Stage 3 rectal cancer, with possible spread to lymph nodes. It’s Stage 3 because the cancerous mass is, in fact, through the wall of the rectum. It is not contained as originally indicated in earlier…
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#5 The Planning Fallacy

There is a phenomenon in business and life called a “planning fallacy” in which predictions about a future project or task display an optimism bias and underestimate the time, expense or resources needed to complete it. And, while I am pretty good at spotting the planning fallacy in my role as a business owner or…
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#6 What If

Scared of what lies ahead for me, I’m often caught in a cycle of worry, fear and uncertainty. I hate the fact that this cancer has shown up. I’m angry at it and what I need to do to fix it. As a result, all sorts of “what ifs” pass through my thoughts on a…
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#7 A Decision Reached

Last Wednesday Dr. X, my new Oncologist, was straight with me in response to my many questions about the side effects of chemotherapy. “Listen, this treatment will be hard. And, yes, there will be side effects. There will be discomfort and maybe a number of other things will show up as well. You’ll be fatigued…
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#8 Getting To Yes

The radiation technician directed me to lie face down, arms above my head, on a almost-hard, molded body holder that positioned me from my head to my upper thighs on the platform of the CT Scanning machine. She then covered me with a warm, blanket-like sheet. I was here for the set up and staging…
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#9 Day 1 Treatment Review

The prescription bottle of chemotherapy tablets stood beside me through breakfast. I had already removed the first three 500mg tablets and placed them in the overturned prescription bottle cap. Doctor X. and the pharmacist both stressed the need to take them after food was in my stomach. So I finished breakfast and waited a little…
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#10 Not A 60% Guy

Becky asked Dr. L, the Integrative Medicine cancer specialist, directly, “What are the odds that Tom will get the side effects from his treatment given his age and good health?” Dr. L didn’t hesitate. “100%” He then paused for a few moments before adding, “We just don’t know which ones will show up and when…
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#11 A Heavy Heart

She was crying in the change room next to me at the radiation treatment center. It was not a quiet weeping, but a heavy, infectious sobbing that crawled inside me. I didn’t see her. I didn’t talk to her. But I imagined what she might be experiencing. Maybe she’d just learned of her diagnosis. Or,…
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#12 Man Up

Today I complete the 23rd of 28 days of my radiation and chemotherapy treatment. I’ll be more than 80% through this first part of my treatment program. And while I wish I could tell you things are getting easier, the fact is, they are getting harder. Chemotherapy and radiation are cumulative, so over time, the…
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#13 Stage One Is Done

Last Friday officially marked the end of the first phase of my treatment plan. It ended with a blood test. The previous Monday I graduated from radiation and completed my final morning and evening oral chemotherapy treatment. The most difficult side effects are almost gone, while others continue to persist in lessening ways. For the…
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#14 Mid-January Update

“You suck at updating your blog!” my friend Alan reminded me by text recently. Humbly, I agreed. I haven’t posted any updates here over the last month or so. The fact is, I haven’t had much in the way of new information to report since my last post on December 19. And, with the holidays…
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#15 Becky’s Update from the Hospital

Tom was in surgery yesterday for just over 5 hours at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, CA. His surgeon said the surgery went according to plan; they removed what was left of the tumor and most of his rectum, two lymph nodes and performed an ileostomy. We’ll have the results of whether or not…
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#16 Becky’s weekend update on Tom

Tom had a rough day on Saturday. The pain in his abdomen was really intense; not so much from the incisions, but as a result of his digestive system trying to work again. Doctor’s orders were to try to eat tiny amounts of really soft foods so his system could get used to processing things…
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#17 Home Again

Just around dinner time last night, Dr. W dropped into my hospital room asked if I felt like going home. Enthusiastically, I responded “Yes!” Becky and I looked at each other and smiled in relief. We were free to go home. I had resigned myself to stay for the night again, as the nurses had…
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#18 The Biopsy Results

Last Friday evening, just before dinner, my cell phone rang indicating a call from the Scripps Health system. I answered with anticipation. Dr. W, my surgeon greeted me and let me know she’d just recieved the pathology report from the biopsy of my tumor, lymph nodes and surrounding tissue. “First thing” she said, “is all…
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#19 Breathtakingly Beautiful

It’s been a month since surgery. And I’m happy to report that my recovery is going really well. Over the last week or so, I can tell a significant increase in my energy levels and decreased fatigue. I’m back to work with all my executive coaching clients and active in my role as CEO with…
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#20 The Grind

It’s been over two months since I shared my last update with you. That post was written a month after surgery and a week or so before I began my “mop-up” chemotherapy treatment. Since then, I’ve had moments where I had some idea about what I might share with you beyond a simple update, but…
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#21 Enough

Two Sundays ago, I officially completed my final round of chemo. In some ways it’s hard to believe the treatment is done, while at the same time, it feels like it’s been the longest 18 weeks of my life. Fact is, as described in my last post, I’d had enough of the grind. When I…
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#22 Surgery, Part Two

At the meeting with my surgeon last week, Dr. W gave me a full exam, checked my CT Scans and looked at my labs. She confirmed everything she saw was supportive of my ostomy reversal surgery. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know the ostomy part of my treatment has been one…
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This is a speech I gave after my first surgery.

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Disaster Preparedness of the Personal Kind

Business owners, entrepreneurs and executives often anticipate unexpected business events and prepare for them in the form of preventative or contingent actions. Insurance, equipment maintenance, disaster recovery plans and data backups all serve to help you be prepared for these difficult business realities.

But, most, if not all leaders are completely unprepared to face an intense personal crisis or disaster, and the related effects it could have on both them and their business. When a major personal event like a debilitating sickness, relationship crisis, family breakup or personal breakdown occur, it can wreak havoc on you and on your business.

Join Tom Adams as he shares the lessons he's discovered since his Stage 3 cancer diagnosis in the fall of 2016. Along with his own experience, he'll share other insights gained from his years as an Executive Coach. At the end of the session, you'll have a personal disaster preparedness roadmap that will support you if a crisis does occur and, in doing so, help save your business as well.