“My Voice” by Dr. Paul Nottoli

Dr. Paul Nottoli - 'Survivor'

Diagnosis: On Oct 1, 1986 at the age of 4 I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL).  I had been getting sick off and on for a few weeks and bruising easily but I would recover and just be a pretty normal kid.  My parents knew something was wrong but weren’t exactly sure.  We were returned from a trip to Alabama and I started going down hill fast.  I was being adjusted by our family chiropractor at the time and he noticed my lymph nodes were extremely swollen and told me to go get some blood work done.  To make a long story short I got blood work, and was admitted to University of Michigan within 24hrs to begin treatment.  Being this young I knew it was serious but I don’t think I really grasped until I was older what my parents and my older brother and sister had to deal with.  My parents didn’t have a lot of money and I had 2 brothers and sister and my youngest brother was born a year later.  I can’t imagine what was going through my family’s head when they were trying to keep our family together and yet they may lose a child at anytime.  My father finally told me in high school that he was walking in the parking garage at UofM hospital and told God if it’s Paul’s time take him, but if it isn’t keep him around and give us a sign that everything will be ok.  He said by the time he got to the car he felt a peace come over him that everything would work out.  I always appreciate my father being real with me during this time.  I couldn’t swallow pills so I had to take predinosone among other medicines in their liquid/jelly form.  It tasted so bad but my father would sit me in the bathroom and tell me if I didn’t take them I might die and that I had to do it.  I remember the first time I got a shot and I was crying really hard and making a scene, and my father told me there will be a lot more needles and that I can cry I just can’t make a scene like that anymore. I never cried or been scared of a needle (besides the spinal tap/bone marrow needle, I would only cry) the rest of my life. My parents would also make me do things as “normal” kids would do.   They would make me play outside with my brothers, go to school as much as I could, play baseball, ride bikes, etc. Through it all I admire what my family went through.  I feel the families and friends are hit the hardest more than the person diagnosed with cancer.  The hardest thing for me throughout this whole treatment was 1. Spinal taps are my nemesis, and 2. My mother feeling guilty that some how this was hear fault, and having to remind her that it was something God allowed in our lives to make us stronger and better people.

Survivor:  After 3.5 years of treatment I was finally pronounced cured.  I am 28 years old now and have had no relapses of any kind.  As far as I know and the doctors I have no side affects from any of the treatments either.  Being a survivor has given me an attitude of no limits and just enjoy life.  It has pushed me to never settle and always try to be something great.  I live by 2 bible versus in my life one is Philippians 4:13, and the other is Isaiah 40:31.  I also live by a quote, which is “blame no one, expect nothing and do something.”-unknown.  Being a survivor has also taught me to inspire others and give back to people in need.  I appreciate organizations like this were I can share my story to give others hope. As a Dr. of Chiropractic I teach others how to live healthy lifestyles so they can live at optimal health and prevent cancer and other diseases.  I also run marathons and half marathons with my best marathon time of 2hrs and 52 min. and half marathon time of 1hr 17min. 12sec. and will be competing in the Boston Marathon on April 19th.  I love distance running, I feel it represents the survivor attitude of never quitting and pushing ahead even when you may hurt or the odds are against you.  I also like to show strength and hope to other cancer survivors through my running.   This may sound weird but sometimes I feel cancer was one of the best things to happen to me.  I have gotten to travel, and meet incredible people because of it.  God allowed this in my life to make me a stronger, and passionate person.  He gave me the gift of survivorship to make a difference and impact in the lives of others.


Dr. Paul Nottoli