“You’re healed!”

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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

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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