“My Voice” by Ed Keelan

Ed Keelan and Family

My story begins on August of 2001 in the Operating Room. I was a Surgical Tech working with an ENT doc and in the middle of the procedure he looks up at me and says, “You know you have a lump on your neck. You need to get that checked out because that can be cancer.” Now for those people that don’t have an idea about what goes on in the operating room let me tell you this. I was “Scrubbed in” and that means sterile I couldn’t do the first thing that came to my mind and that was grab my neck. So, I was pale white and I had to deal with everyone in the room coming over and checking this out, they all had to come over and go, “Wow! You do, and you never noticed it.”

No, and if I did I wouldn’t have had a clue of what to do.

But, two weeks later I was in the Doctor’s office getting this check out.

Now, some of you know what comes next. Time for a needle Biopsy, now for those who have had this done you know the whole thing and wouldn’t wish this fun little adventure on anyone. Those who haven’t had this done this is pretty scary. They told me don’t move, talk, or anything as we shove a needle in your throat.

Of course this came back showing up nothing. So, my endocrinologist told me, (who happened to have been the Doctor that originally told me to get this checked out’s wife. Talk about keeping it in the family.) we could either keeping getting Needle Biopsies every couple of months or we could get it taken out.

The decision was simple on that one. I eventually went under the knife and after a five hour surgery they did a subtotal-Thyroidectomy. (Removal of part of my thyroid.) My thyroid was about the size of and apple, which is not normal. Then we later found out that it had Follicular Cancer. The good thing was that it was caught very early, that Doc that told me to get it checked out still and will always rock in my book. So after my Surgery the rest of my treatment consisted of one dose of I-131 radiation, and then figuring out my Synthroid levels.

The one thing I will say about the I-131 experience was that the treatment was easy with the exception of having to be away from people for several days. You were considered radio active which was an interesting thought, and you had to be in a three foot radius of people. You couldn’t even have pets around. I thought that this would be great, I rented a bunch of movies my girlfriend (Now my Wife) at the time went down to Florida to see her sister. This changed when I realized how much as people we need to have human contact. By the end of the three days I was begging to just go out and be around people.

Now, eight years later there is not even a trace of Cancer in my body, and I am still trying to figure out where my place is in the area of advocacy. That journey began when I attend the Livestrong Summit that was here in Columbus, Ohio. I will say this I was humbled by the people that I met there. Those were some of the most amazing people that I have ever met and a lot of those people are on this site. I met people that had some pretty crazy battles and now have turned around and gave back to the community that took care of them. I belong to several groups and have learned a lot from the people that I have worked with. I also learned that Livestrong is more then just a word it’s a lifestyle, and I try to do my best to live that way each day that God has given to me.

The other thing that has made this journey an interesting one is that I left Surgery and I now work in Endoscopy doing Colonoscopies and EGDs all day. This also means I come in contact with a cancer patient almost ever day and now I have at least some understanding of what some of them may be going through. Does it make me a better medical professional probably not, but it gives me that added compassion to care for that patient as well as an immediate connection with them. Yeah, I know I got the cancer that if you had the choice this is the one that you want but when I see that Yellow Bracelet around their wrist and I feel like there’s a bond there. So I do what I can to make their time that they are with me just a little bit easier. I have even done what I could to educate some of the Doctors that have to deal with giving a diagnosis to patients that just found out that they have Cancer.  Also, I have been involved with the Pelotonia and a lot of the other Cancer events that go on in the city.

Also, I write and you write what you know, and my current book that I am working on the main character is involved in the cancer community as an advocate but I don’t want to give much more away than that.

But in the end it all comes down to being a Survivor and taking care of those that are going through the fight of their lives and helping those the only way we know how. If it means showing those people what’s out there. It may be taking a friend that just found out that their Cancer has gotten worse back to Church for the first time in a long time, or just listening to that person that needs someone to talk too. Whatever it is we need to give back to the community and take care of our own.