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“This experience has opened my eyes to all the good out there. These days, you don’t always hear uplifting stories, but they’re out there. They’re everywhere. They’re right here.”
Nick Haerther’s story is one of the uplifting ones. It’s a story of love, loss, community and kindness. It’s a story of sickness and health. And it’s a story of new life, completely unexpected and perfectly timed.
Nick’s a guy who knows how to get things done. At 30, he’s a self-made man, a homeowner, a husband and a father to two little girls, Kaedyn and Siah. Nick’s also living with an incurable form of cancer – living fully and beating the odds after his initial diagnosis.
It all started with intense back pain. Because I did a lot of heavy lifting at my job, I thought I’d pulled a muscle. I did months of physical therapy and home exercise, but it only got worse. I kept getting sent home from the ER, but on my third visit, they realized I’d lost 75 pounds in three weeks. That’s when things got serious.
After an initial diagnosis of lymphoma, I was diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer. In February 2016, I was told I had six weeks to live and to get my things in order.
For a long time, things went from bad to worse. We’d already had a huge loss because Erin had had an ectopic pregnancy a few months earlier. She had part of a fallopian tube removed and was told a future pregnancy was not in the cards. My being on chemotherapy affected my fertility and ruled out another baby.
The cancer has taken some tough turns. The PET scan showed that it started in the esophagus and moved to my lymph nodes, intestines and spine. It also revealed secondary bone cancer. Then, about a year ago, I started getting headaches, and my balance was off. They found a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. I had surgery to remove the tumor, followed by radiation. The good news is that my brain is clear of cancer.
Initially, I had a lot of complications and infections. I’m pretty stable now and have gained back weight. It really helps to get my treatment at The Ghosh Center.
When I was diagnosed, the ER doctor referred me to an oncologist who couldn’t see me for at least two weeks. My family doctor told me to see Dr. Ghosh instead because he’d treated her own husband, and she knew how good he was. When Erin called Dr. Ghosh’s office and explained my situation, the difference was night and day. Dr. Ghosh fit me in that week between patients. Even before the biopsy results were in, the Ghosh team started to care for me, putting me on fluids and seeing me on weekends to get me what I needed.
Big news. Unexpected, unbelievable news. Against all odds, we’re having another baby! Erin’s due in June, and we’re beyond excited.
When we heard the heart beating and saw the ultrasound, it was so amazing. This baby was definitely not in our plans, but is just what we needed.
I see the world in a whole new way. I’m blown away by the goodness of other people. So many people have reached out to us and shown support. My mom’s friends put together a benefit; Erin’s co-workers started a GoFundMe page; a complete stranger passing through town put $600 in a donation can at the gas station. There’s been so much good.
This experience has opened my eyes to all the good out there.
I’m never envisioned myself as a stay-at-home dad, but that’s my new role. I get to spend so much more time with my kids, and my relationship with them is so much richer. And now there’s a new chapter with a new child.
We’ve gone through a lot of horrible stuff, but in the end, I found out what was important to me and really grabbed onto it. I’m more thankful for what I have and less wishful for other things. I’ve never given up hope. Somehow, things are a whole lot better now than they were before.