Carlos Garcia: Cancer Survivor
His Story in His Own Words
My first cancer diagnosis
My first cancer diagnosis was at age 17. Bone cancer meant surgery on my leg consisting of a knee replacement and maybe having half my femur being replaced.
I was afraid. Not knowing what to expect during chemotherapy and not knowing what I would have to endure for the next nine months. I was scared I was going to lose my leg.
My second cancer diagnosis
After being in remission for several years, my cancer came back when I was 21. I was going to have to endure even more aggressive chemotherapy. I was going to have my left leg amputated above the knee.
I had been an athlete my entire life. It was my identity. Losing my leg would take my identity away.
What would become of me.
Thinking back, the biggest challenge was always the unknown: Having to battle cancer twice and knowing that the second diagnosis reduced my chances for surviving.
There was the challenge of facing life as an amputee. Knowing that life would never be the same and always having to find different ways of doing things because of my amputation.
For several months, I wanted nothing to do with my prosthesis. I threw it in the closet and used crutches to get around. Then, after a few months, I accepted the challenges and circumstances and made a promise to myself that I was not going to let cancer and amputation dictate what I could and could not do in my life.
I was determined to overcome these obstacles, which I did. Till this day I hold to that promise I made with myself.
Vicki Hunter, my nurse case manager at Kelsey-Seybold helped me find my way.
Vicki made a huge difference in my battles with cancer and amputation.
From the first day we met, Vicki has always been there to support me and my family during the entire process.
Perhaps the thing that makes Vicki so very special is that she took the time to get to know us. She went above and beyond her duties as a case manager to make things easy as possible for me and my family.
I could always tell that Vicki genuinely cared about my well being and condition. There were multiple occasions when Vicki visited me in the hospital – these visits were during extremely difficult times for me.
Vicki gave me great support. She always had a positive outlook and told me how I was going to be all right. She believed in me before I believed in myself.
She made the transition for me having only one leg easier.
She always returned my calls. Always made sure I had my doctor referrals or prescriptions filled. If Vicki had to walk to get a prescription herself, she would do it.
Who else would have done this for us?
She went made sure everything was taken care off and that neither I nor my family had additional stress.
Vicki was not only an extraordinary nurse case manager, she was also a family friend. Without a doubt in my mind, she was one of my guardian angels during the entire cancer experience.
Till this day, Vicki continues to go above and beyond in making sure everything is taken care as I continue my life as a cancer survivor.
I am happy to say that I have hit my five-year mark in remission. I am even playing sports again. I have found my passion for cycling and was invited to a Paralympics cycling camp in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Facility. I have completed the Colorado Copper Triangle, a 78 mile ride at more than 12,000-ft. elevation.
I’ve also completed the 90-mile Austin LIVESTRONG® Challenge. I have been heavily involved for the past several years with LIVESTRONG, as a spokesman for the LIVESTRONG Patient Navigation Center and being a member of Team LIVESTRONG as an amputee cyclist.