My name is Jeff Hartman and along with my wife, Janet we are the proud parents of two boys, Alex, 20, a college student and Blake, 16, a junior in high school.
In April, 2014 I was celebrating a personal victory. I had reached my five year cancer free anniversary date after undergoing a Prostatectomy in 2009 for prostate cancer. Unfortunately, my celebration was short-lived. I was having my annual physical and just casually mentioned to my doctor that I was experiencing an odd spasm in my side and I couldn’t remember sustaining any injury to that area. She ordered an x-ray and then called me the next day to inform me that the radiologist had found a suspicious mass in my lung. I then underwent a VATS procedure at a major medical center and received the devastating news that not only did I have lung cancer but it was stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. I am one of the small percent of people that develop non-smokers lung cancer.
After several screening tests and scans, it was determined the best course of treatment for me to follow would involve taking a chemo pill every day for the rest of my life. I was just dealing with that when I received more distressing news. The MRI scan of my brain had revealed several brain metastases and I would have to undergo 2 weeks of radiation. They assured me this was a somewhat normal occurrence with my type of lung cancer, but it meant additional treatment and more side effects to deal with. The radiation has zapped my body of energy and the little appetite I had left. I made it through the treatments and just 24 hours after the last treatment, I woke up on a Saturday morning unable to breathe. My wife rushed me to our local hospital and I was diagnosed with several large blood clots in my left lung. I remained in ICU for a few days before being discharged. I now have to take a blood thinner every day along with medication to slow my heart rate.
Right now, I am dealing with the side effects of cancer and treatment. I go to Physical Therapy to try to build some muscle tone and strength after losing 35 pounds. The Physical Therapist is also working on alleviating nerve pain from my VATS procedure that I had 8 months ago. I do not have the strength to perform some activities and try to go to work daily, but rarely spending all day in the office because of fatigue.
My struggle with cancer has been a difficult journey, but I remain optimistic and try to focus on one step at a time. Without the continuous support of my wife and sons, I would not have a positive outlook. They have loved and supported me during this entire battle with cancer. I am also extremely grateful to have such a wonderful family, friends, and colleagues that truly want to help me with my cancer journey.