A little bit about me
My name is Pat Simmons and my main focus in life at this stage is my nonprofit which is called bikes for Christ’s bicycles. It’s an organization that works with people in need so they can get around, get to doctor’s appointments, and your kid can get to school. That’s what our focus is on right now. I also have a background as a longtime singer, and songwriter, and do a lot of marketing as well.
So I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and it was diagnosed in stage one. Everyone asks how the doctors found it, but the doctors didn’t find it. I was the one that discovered I had it. I felt like I had pulled something in my abdominal section. The first time I felt it at the gym. When I was doing presses, I felt something in my abdominal section. As time went by, it persisted. It didn’t go away. I actually felt like whatever was inside of me, was growing. So, I decided to go to my primary care doctor.
My first reaction after being diagnosed with cancer
I went to the primary care doctor. First, I had an ultrasound, and then an MRI. They wanted me to see a neurologist. A month passed but it didn’t help. So, I went to the practice where my mom goes and got in with a great doctor named Dr. Drew Palmer. I kind of prepared myself for the worst. So when I heard that I had cancer, I kind of came to accept it. When I got the scans back, Dr. Palmer said that it was a cyst or an encapsulated mass inside of my right kidney. He said there was a 70-80% chance that it was cancerous. He didn’t biopsy it but set a date to do surgery.
I had laparoscopic surgery. They were able to remove the encapsulated mass. I spent three nights in the hospital. This type of surgery is abdominal surgery so they have to blow you up with gas and your body slowly comes back to its normal self. I got the trauma from the surgery as well as from the swelling. So that was not fun at all. But after three days, the rest of my kidneys were still working correctly. And I came home after the third day. After this operation, I was pronounced cancer-free and would not need any radiation or chemotherapy.
Coping up with stress and support group
I had a lot of prayer warriors. I knew there were a lot of people just watching out for me and praying for me. My main support system was definitely my mom. Because I’m a single guy. So, no wife or girlfriend or kids. So, it was my mom and my dad.
My experience with medics and hospital staff
That leads to a whole other story. It’s a good story, so I’ll share it. I had been chatting with someone through a dating site. We both were busy so we didn’t get a chance to get together. I was diagnosed with cancer and set up a hospital for surgery. It turned out that she’s actually the head nurse on the floor that I’m going to be placed in after surgery. She made sure that the people knew to watch over me. So, I felt like I had this angel kind of watching me the whole time. The care I got in the hospital was just phenomenal.
Things that kept me going
I would say it was my faith in God that kept me optimistic. It would have been a lot scarier if I didn’t have anyone to take my troubles away. I’ve been a blessed man. I have a ton of family and friends because I still live in the area where I’m born and raised. The whole process from diagnosis to surgery was only on us. Just having all those family and friends that’s huge. That’s huge when you’re facing something like this.
How I felt after being cancer-free
I felt grateful, just elated. At this point, everything looks good.
Fear of recurrence
The outlook for my type of cancer is very good. Okay. I go back in December, and I have got the scans done before. And then we kind of set a plan from there. Right now I don’t have a fear of it. I’m just grateful to be on the other side of what I just went through and try to live day to day the best that I can.
I didn’t make any lifestyle changes because I’m a pretty healthy person. And I’ve got a killer workout regimen that I do. So I’m doing something physical-wise every day to stay in shape. The hardest part was after the surgery when all I was cleared to do was walk. And for the first four weeks, that was the hard part. The doctor said that all I can do is walk. He said internal bleeding or hernias could happen if I don’t follow his instructions. I was stuck with the plan of walking. And then three weeks ago, I was slowly easing back into my working out like gym lifting, doing some other machines and stuff like that, and just trying to get back to normal.
Positive changes and lessons learned
The greatest thing learned is to empathise with others and offer some encouraging advice to them. Don’t get cancer again. Cherish every day because we’re not promised tomorrow. Make the best out of the time that you do have here.
A message to other cancer patients and caregivers
Well just stay positive. Prayers are huge. Surround yourself with a good support system. And just stay as positive as possible and think of the best possible outcome.
Stigmas attached to cancer
Well, I don’t know of anybody that hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way or another. Nobody wants to hear the C-word. Nobody wants to know that they have cancer or have been diagnosed with cancer. If you see a tumour growing in your body, don’t just watch it grow. Go and get it looked at right away. If you do know something’s wrong, by all means, go get it looked at so you can get the treatment you need.