Lung Cancer Survivor
- Diagnosed with stage IIIA lung cancer with no known risk factors
- Interviewed four doctors before choosing Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
- Treated with radiation and chemotherapy
Randall Broad is on a mission to educate people about lung cancer, and to correct the misconceptions about it.
“I was not a smoker,” Randall says, “but everyone associates lung cancer with smoking.”
Randall’s nagging cough had been around for about two years. He’d been to the doctor several times to have it checked out, and even had annual X-ray’s and an endoscopy. But it was in March 2008 that he had a bronchoscopy that revealed at 2.5 – 3 cm tumor in the lower left lobe of his lung. He was diagnosed with Stage IIIA lung cancer.
“I interviewed four doctors,” Randall says. “I had close friends go with me for each interview and I chose Seattle Cancer Care Alliance because of Dr. Renato Martins (medical oncologist and medical director for general oncology).”
Each meeting was very difficult, Randall recalls. “Because even the third time you hear the word cancer, you’re still shell-shocked. Dr. Martins did a great job explaining the cancer and the treatment plan. He has a great sense of calm, a great bedside manner, and his ability to communicate is why I chose him. The pedigree of SCCA (UW Medical Center and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) was good, too.”
Randall had surgery to remove his lower left lobe with Dr. Douglas Wood, University of Washington professor and chief of General Thoracic Surgery, as well as the Endowed Chair in Lung Cancer Research. But what Dr. Wood found was that I still had active lymph nodes, so aggressive treatment would be necessary.
“They didn’t remove anything,” Randall says. “They sewed me back up and I asked my friend and her mother if they got it when I woke up. And they said no. I figured that wasn’t optimal, but Dr. Martins came in and told me there were other options.”
A month and a half later, Randall started a 10-week regimen of radiation and had three chemotherapy treatments. “I was glad to see that summer over and done with,” Randall says. “Dr. Martins chooses his words wisely, and after treatment was complete, in essence, he told me to go live my life.”
Randall says he never felt sick, except when going through chemotherapy. He had help from his parents and his sister, as well as a friend who stayed with him for two weeks after his surgery.
He finished treatment in September 2008, and then Randall started traveling with his teenaged children for the next year. "My kids and my friends became the most important part of my life,” he says.
Randall goes in to see Dr. Martins every four months now for a CT scan. There is no evidence of disease, “but less than 15 percent of people who have Stage III lung cancer survive five years,” Randall cautions. “I’m out to be part of that 15 percent.”
In 2008, Randall had his own business. He was very successful, “but I was a stress case,” he says. “I didn’t handle getting this disease very well, but I think that’s why I got sick—having a stressful life that is.”
Randall had shingles in his throat a few years before his coughing started. “I think I went back to work too soon,” he says. “Then, I thought that cough I had had been from the shingles. It felt like it came from the same area of my throat. I didn’t have a CT scan at the time, which may have shown the cancer at an earlier stage.”
“I’m not working now,” Randall says. “It’s OK, but I’m 54 years old and sometimes I struggle with it. I go out and speak a lot. I’m planning to go around the world this year to speak wherever they’ll listen to me. I’m out to change the stigma and remind people to live their lives.”
Randall wrote a book in November 2009 that he published in March 2010 called It's an Extraordinary Life.
“I have better meaning to my life now, more purposeful meaning. I eat well, sleep well, and even play golf. I feel great,” Randall says. “Part of my book acknowledges that none of us are going to beat death. I chose to have cancer rather than have it take me over. Fighting cancer doesn’t work for me – that’s negative energy, conflict, aggression, being at odds. I don’t want that going on in me. Treat cancer, but don’t fight it. I’m going to embrace cancer, invite it to dinner and buy it a bottle of fine wine. We’ll see in the end how I end up. Why on earth would I want to fight something that I know can kick my ass on my best day and go up against the biggest bully on the block? Nope, I’m going to live with it opposed to die from it.”