Biopsy & 2,190 Days

Hey friends,

In July, during what has now become routine visits with my surgeon, Dr. Steiniger and his staff were finishing the exam and just about to say “See you in six months…”, when he said “Oh, that doesn’t look normal and hasn’t been there before.” He said I had a very unusual, large lesion on my jaw behind my back right, bottom teeth. For a month, we treated the lesion with a topical steroid. During the 30-day follow-up exam, the oral lesion did not respond to the treatment and much appeared larger. He recommended that we schedule an excisional biopsy. I prayed for a moment and said “How quickly can we do it?” Dr. Steiniger paused and then said to his assistant, “Let’s prep Richard and do it now.” Topical anesthesia, several injections into the jaw and then the abnormal tissue was surgically removed. Then comes the waiting. Thankfully, I was immediately flooded with reminders of God’s faithfulness and purposes in every trial that we experience.

After a week of waiting for the results, early this morning, Dr. Steiniger called my cell phone and said… “Cancer-free!” The area will heal normally within a few weeks.

Cancer-free for six years (or 2,190 days)!!! Each day is truly a special gift.

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, college student, high school senior, and fourth-grader!

Over the several years, we have foster-parented forty-eight different children. Some of the kids simply spend the night with us after their parents’ arrest. A few have stayed with us for a few weeks until a relative makes accommodations for them. We had the joy of raising two brothers for three years. Thankfully, they were adopted last year into their incredible forever family. We miss them and think of them daily. Thankfully, we see them on Facebook and in-person regularly which always makes our day.

The incredible team at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. Last April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 15th anniversary!

With my best friend John Faulkner we published the 14th issue of TwoTen Magazine! It is a simultaneous print and digital (web & iPad) publication aimed to challenge business leaders to manage their organizations from a Christian perspective and improve their effectiveness. The covers have featured Coach Tony Dungy, Tim Tebow, Dr. Ben Carson, Rev. Billy Graham, Willie Robertson, Shannon Bream, Gary LeVox, David Green and Dina Dwyer-Owens. It’s been very exciting traveling the country and telling the stories about what God does through His people.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged Lisa, my boys and me during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey, especially over the past six years.

Love and press on, Rich

 

“You’re healed!”

Hey friends,
I’m sorry that I haven’t shared on this blog in over a year. Wow, a lot has happened and most significantly regarding my health, I now have an update to share. After finally reaching the six month follow-up schedule with my oncologists, I had a PET-CT scan in May 2014 that revealed some troublesome results. My doctor and the imaging technicians identified abnormal lymph nodes in my neck. They’d been watching them for a few months and this scan delivered the findings. We discussed potential surgical options and perhaps radiation treatment. We decided to wait a few months and check them again and determine the extent of the reoccurrence. On September 10, 2014, I had another whole body, PET-CT and on September 12th I met with my oncologist. Their office was very busy for a late Friday afternoon. I waited in the lobby for almost an hour, which felt like a day. I watched patients walking in and out in various stages of treatment; the newly diagnosed, the critical ill and frail. I thought, here we go again. My turn to be ‘that guy’, the sick friend with cancer. I though about my kids and the important moments in their lives that I might miss. I thought of my wife, Lisa and how she’d have to become my caregiver, again. I waited and began to pray. I asked God to heal me or give me the right attitude to face cancer again. I waited, come on people, when is my turn. Finally the nurse called me “Mr. Hayes, the doctor is ready to see you,” which really means, you now sit in the little room, alone.They checked my weight, blood pressure and temperature. I filled out a clipboard checklist and waited a bit more.

Dr. Hochman entered the room, shook my hand, sat at the computer and open the screen to the diagnostic scans. He said that “the lymph nodes have resolved themselves.” I said “resolved themselves, what does that mean?” He said, “well I guess you’d say, you’re healed, no cancer or tumors”. Whoa! I was blown away. In a moment, my trajectory was changed, again. He completed the exam and said, “well, now you graduate to nine-month follow-up appointments!”

I jumped into my Jeep and called Lisa and shared the good news with her. I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes and reflected on the significance of the day. God spared me yet again from an insidious disease that once occupied my every thought.  Every day, every moment, every interruption, every relationship and every opportunity to serve someone else comes from the God who created the universe.

Lisa and I have started a foundation called CXPA Cancer Foundation. It’s goal is to distill and provide relevant information, encouragement and hope to cancer patients and their caregivers.   Please check it out and let us know what you think: http://www.cxpacancer.com Thankfully, we have connected with a few wonderful people who’ve been impacted by carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma. We pray that God will ministry to them through us.

Overall, my energy-level and strength continues to slowly improve. In March, I began a new, pain management therapy regiment with a great doctor, which includes new pain medications and quarterly, peripheral nerve blocks. Below are two images from my most recent series of injections.

peripheral nerve blocks imaging screen                               peripheral nerve block imaging

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, college freshmen, high school sophomore, and second grader!

Over the past five and half years, we have foster-parented over forty different children. Some of the kids simply spend the night with us after their parents’ arrest. A few have stayed with us for a few weeks until a relative makes accommodations for them. We’ve had the joy of having two brothers for over two years. We pray that God soon opens the door and allows them to live with their forever family soon.

Last summer, after living in the same house for fifteen years, we moved into a home that we call it the Second Chance Ranch. It significantly helps us foster-parent more effectively.

Thankfully, my incredible team at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. Last April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 13th anniversary.

Today, with my best friend John Faulkner we published the ninth issue of TwoTen Magazine! It is a simultaneous print and digital (web &  iPad) publication aimed to challenge business leaders to manage their organizations from a Christian perspective and improve their effectiveness. The covers have featured Coach Tony Dungy, Tim Tebow, Dr. Ben Carson, Rev. Billy Graham, Willie Robertson, Shannon Bream, Gary LeVox, David Green and Dina Dwyer-Owens. It’s been very exciting traveling the country and telling the stories about what God does through His people.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, Lisa and my boys during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey.

Love and press on, Rich

Significant Milestone

Hey friends,

Drumroll please… It’s three-years today (August 30, 2010) since my medical oncologist; Dr. Robbins first told Lisa and me that I’m “100% cancer-free”. Last week I had a routine PET-CT scan and yesterday received the results and examination from Dr. Hochman. I try not to take this ‘miracle’ lightly. Every day, every moment, every interruption, every relationship and every opportunity to serve someone else comes from the God who created the universe.

Overall, my energy-level and strength continues to improve.

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, high school senior, freshmen and first grade! When I was first diagnosed, not seeing Chandler graduate was a real possibility.

Over the past two years, we have foster-parented 36 different children. Some of the kids simply spend the night with us after their parents’ arrest. A few have stayed with us for a few weeks until a relative makes accommodations for them. We had the joy of having two brothers for about a year.

In August 1998, Lisa and I built and moved into a new home. A few weeks ago, through a series of amazing circumstances including an online real estate auction, we moved. We call the home the Second Chance Ranch. It will significantly help us foster-parent more effectively.

Thankfully, my incredible team at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. Last April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 12th anniversary.

Lisa and I have started a foundation called CXPA Cancer Foundation. Its goal is to distill and provide relevant information, encouragement and hope to cancer patients and their caregivers.   Please check it out and let us know what you think: http://www.cxpacancer.com

Last year, my best friend John Faulkner and I co-founded a national magazine called TwoTen. It is a simultaneous print and digital (web &  iPad) publication aimed to challenge business leaders to manage their organizations from a Christian perspective and improve their effectiveness. The covers have featured Coach Tony Dungy, Tim Tebow, Dr. Ben Carson and Billy Graham. It’s been very exciting traveling the country and telling the stories about what God does through His people.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, Lisa and my boys during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey.

Love and press on, Rich

Happy New Infection!

Well, the new year started out without a hint that God was about to show me, yet again, that He is really in control of everything. My first day back to work after the Christmas and New Year’s Eve break was Wednesday, January 2, 2013. Early that morning after my quiet-time with the Lord, I prayed for God show me how He planned to use me in the brand new year. The balance of that day was thankfully, pretty smooth. My employees arrived, we had a time of fellowship by sharing with each other about what each person did during the holidays, we had an operations meeting and then we got to work designing and developing marketing programs. I was excited about the new year, but a bit anxious and determined to start the year off with new sales and ministry opportunities. That day we has received from our printer, the second issue of TwoTen Magazine featuring Tim Tebow. The next morning, I was the keynote speaker at Real Estate Lives, a non-profit organization that serves real estate professionals in Tampa Bay. Real Estate Lives is led by two of my friends Ron Weaver, attorney at Stearns Weaver Miller and Bruce Jonas, CEO of Masters Construction. The attendees at the event were great people. The balance of that day was filled with client meetings. I decided to take Friday off and spend the day with Lisa. Saturday was a typically day for the Hayes family, our older sons sleep-in (teenagers!) while our foster sons ( brothers, 1 and 3 years old) and Tristan were up early to take on the day. That evening I wasn’t feeling well and thought that I was catching a winter cold or sinus infection. On Sunday morning, I skipped church and slept-in most of the day. On Monday morning, my alarm went off at 5:00am and as I was preparing for work, I looked in the mirror and noticed that the left side of my face and eye was very red and beginning to swell. This concerned me because the irritation was precisely in the areas were I had cancer and radiation. I went to my office and did some work, then I called my surgeon’s office and they agreed to see me as their first appointment that morning. Dr. Steiniger examined me and was concerned also. He prescribed oral antibiotics and said that if the infection got worse to the hospital. The antibiotics made me sick and by Tuesday morning, the infection was growing. That morning I called my oncologist’s office and they got me in early to see Dr. Hochman. He immediately concurred that I need to be admitted to the hospital. So off Lisa and I went to the emergency room, where coincidentally, everyone in my town was as due to an outbreak of the flu. After several hours of waiting, I was finally admitted, where the incredible nursing and admissions staff began to triage symptoms and diagnosis my condition through blood-work, vitals and a CAT scan. That afternoon, I was admitted to room and given a series of antibiotics through an IV. On Wednesday morning, I met with the hospital’s infectious disease specialist who was concerned that the infection was entering my left eye and brain. He increased the volume and mix of antibiotics. By Thursday morning, the infection was worse, the antibiotics weren’t working fast enough. The medical team supplemented my intravenous therapy with my old friend, injections in the stomach. Thankfully, by late Thursday evening and early Friday morning the infection subsided enough to be discharged, hooray!

So, what was the lesson for me, why did God cause or allow this to happen? Why did He put me in a hospital bed for a week at the beginning of a new year, instead of the marketplace where I could make things happen? I believe He was wanting to prove that He was in control and I wasn’t. I wasn’t in control of my health, schedule or plans, again. In that hospital room, I rededicated the businesses that I manage to God.

The next week, was full of opportunities that I could have never imagined or planned in my own strength. I also met a special guy in my hospital room, that I hope will become a long-time friend.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and my boys during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey.

Love and press on, Rich

731 Days – Cancer-free

Hey friends,

It’s been two-years today since my medical oncologist; Dr. Robbins told Lisa and me that I’m “100% cancer-free”. It’s still humbling, frustrating, unbelievable and thrilling. If this sounds like a broken-record, I’m glad. Cancer survivors don’t like drama.

April of this year, we had another faith-building moment of truth. A month prior, I discovered a significant lump in my neck, just left of my Adam’s apple (laryngeal prominence). My surgeon, Dr. Steiniger immediately sent me for a full-body PET-CT scan and consultation with my oncologists. They determined that it was non-cancerous (whew!), but it was growing and needed to come-out (oh crap!). On April 9th, I had an in-office surgical procedure to remove the mass, which was apparently a disturbed lymph node (for the record, I do not recommend having your neck cut open without anesthesia). A week later, the stitches came out. Thankfully the surgeon was able to use my existing scar for the incision. Overall, my energy-level and strength continues to improve.

The past 12 months have been incredibly active and fruitful. Last October, Lisa and I were able to attend the C12′s 2011 Leadership Conference in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms. I was asked to speak at a breakout session to their national audience, about the miraculous healing that I received from stage IV cancer, which is ironic since the left side of my face is paralyzed and talking in a clear manner is a challenge.

In November, we were finally able to adopt Tristan Isaiah, just after his 5th birthday! on a Sunday in December we celebrated his adoption into our family with a special service at our church, Riverside Baptist Church followed by a catered luncheon attended by the entire church, family and special friends. Here’s a video that we created that starts with the day we met Ty through his adoption day.

On February 1st, Lisa and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. Typically, most couples seem to make a big deal out of their 25th anniversary, and they should. Two years prior, when we were facing my “terminal diagnosis” we made our 20th anniversary a goal/milestone to achieve. I planned a vow renewal ceremony and reception at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg. In early March, we had the shindig and it was attended by our immediate family and friends. The next morning Lisa and I set-sail for an 8-day Caribbean cruise!

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, high school junior, 8th grade and Kindergarten!

Thankfully, business at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. In April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 11th anniversary and opened a second Marketing Showroom in Tampa.

Over the past four months, we have foster-parented about a dozen different children. Some of the kids simply spend the night with us after their parents’ arrest. A few have stayed with us for a few weeks until a relative makes accommodations for them. We have had the joy of having a brother and sister twice. Presently, we have a five-month old boy that we call Jack. He’s the product of a typical scenario; unwed biological mother on drugs, multiple half-siblings that are scattered about the country, an uninvolved, abusive biological father that is frequently incarcerated. Jack is a wonderful, happy, independent little boy that is currently and thankfully unaware of his circumstances. I look forward to taking him for a walk around our neighborhood tonight.

I have also begun to understand the opportunity that I have been given to share what I’ve learned about the particular disease that I had, stage IV carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma (CxPA) cancer. Recently, two celebrities (rapper Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys and journalist Barbara Callahan) died after losing their battle with salivary gland cancer. Lisa and I have been led to start a foundation called CXPA Cancer Foundation. It’s goal is to distill and provide relevant information and encouragement to cancer patients and their caregivers.

Next week, my business partners and I are launching a national magazine called TwoTen. It is a simultaneous print and digital (web &  iPad) publication aimed to challenge business leaders to manage their organizations from a Christian perspective and improve their effectiveness.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and my boys during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible journey.

Love and press on, Rich

365 Days Cancer-free

Hey friends,

It’s been one year today since my medical oncologist, Dr. Robbins told Lisa and me that I’m “100% cancer-free”. It’s still humbling, frustrating, unbelievable and thrilling.

Our three sons Chandler, Mitchell and Tristan are back in school, high school sophomore, 7th grade and pre-K… whew! We continue to pray that Ty’s adoption is finalized this year.

Thankfully, business at Digital Lightbridge continues to be blessed with many new and exciting organizations to serve, brand and guide towards success. In April, Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 10th anniversary.

I continue to speak publicly about the miraculous healing that I received from stage IV cancer, which is ironic since the left side of my face is paralyzed and talking in a clear manner is a challenge. On Thursday, September 15th, I’ll be speaking in Tampa at the Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church during their business luncheon and on Friday, October 28th, I’ll be speaking in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms at the C12’s 2011 Leadership Conference.

Thank you to everyone who has cheered me and my family on during this strange, horrible, wonderful and incredible experience.

Press on friends, Rich

Plans

One year ago today, a freak accident destroyed half of Digital Lightbridge’s building and nearly killed a few people. As I think back on all of the things that were going on in my life then, I realize how out-of-control I was and how in-control God was. I had just started chemotherapy, injections and radiation for stage IV cancer. I was physically very sick, weak and still trying to comprehend the reality of my circumstances. Lisa and I met with attorneys to ensure that my life insurance and wills were adequate. That morning, started as most do for me, I had my early morning quiet-time with the Lord, then a meeting with a colleague, then the horrific, loud crash! At approximately 10:30am, an elderly man drove through the front of the office (fire department estimated 45 mph), hit Robin and continued into the office until the front of his car terminated at my desk. Thankfully, I was in the conference room and Robin was miraculously spared physically trauma.

This morning as I read from the devotional “Handbook to Leadership” by Kenneth Boa, the author included Jeremiah 29:11; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It was a great reminder this morning, on the one year anniversary of the day that it appeared that my life was passing due to cancer and my business was destroyed, that God is committed to our personal welfare and security.

Digital Lightbridge celebrated its 10th anniversary with two Open Houses on April 27 & 28, 2011. Our friends from Oasis Coffee Spot and Buddy Brew Coffee created an incredible coffee bar and treated our guests to unique caffeinated drinks. Thank you to everyone who attended and the made the events so special.

Yesterday, I had a three month check-up with my radiation oncologist Dr. Hochman at the Florida Cancer Institute. Lisa and Chandler surprised me and met me there. We had a long wait so Lisa left to pick-up Tristan. Chan and I got checked-in and waited some-more. Dr. Hochman confirmed that the PET scan that I had last week was 100% cancer-free and that I continue to recover ahead of his expectations.

Press on friends, Love, Rich