“When you hear you have cancer, the world completely stops. You immediately begin to think about everyone you love.”
That is how colon cancer survivor Michael Hackett described the first time he was told he had cancer.
Michael began periodically experiencing symptoms for a year before he was diagnosed with the disease, but as an active, busy 45-year-old, he attributed it to stress. But when severe bleeding began, he suspected that it may be more. He was right. It was then he underwent a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer.
After discussing his options with his family and friends, Michael knew Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center was where he needed to be treated. The Cancer Center’s rectal multidisciplinary team recently led the Center in becoming the first facility in the state and one of only 15 in the country to receive a three-year accreditation from the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer.
“My parents told me ‘Of course you’re going to go to Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. That is where you need to be.’ And then when I went and saw the center for myself, it just verifies what I knew all along. This is where I’ll receive the best care.”
Michael’s team of specialists from each diagnostic, treatment and supportive care discipline came together to form a treatment plan. After going through surgery, he began with chemotherapy where he quickly formed a bond with his infusion nurses.
When Michael was diagnosed with colon cancer, he had no doubt where to turn. “Every time I went there, they blew me away with their skills, knowledge but most importantly their caring nature. I know it sounds strange to say, but I didn’t mind going there.”
After a number of chemotherapy treatments, Michael finally rang the iconic bell, signifying his last day of treatment for cancer. Being able to experience it with his entire family is something Michael says he will never forget.
“It was a special moment when I saw my wife, my kids, mom and dad and my in-laws all walk in the door and see me being treated for the last time. To get up, walk over to that bell and ring it with everyone there, it felt like a defining moment.”
Through this journey, Michael has found a new confidence in himself.
“I trust the Cancer Center team. When you walk in that place, you quickly realize how special it is,” he explains. “I’m a lot stronger than I thought. And for other people that might get diagnosed with cancer, you’re a lot stronger than you think.”