About Me

      Cancer always seems to come as a surprise. Not that the person with it doesn’t believe something is wrong, but cancer? Well, we all think about it, know somebody with it, but like car accidents, don’t think it will ever happen to us.
      I was one of those people. Then, one beautiful fall day in the Patagonia region of Argentina I fell down while fishing a trout stream. For twenty years I had waded trout streams, sometimes with water up to my chest, but not once had I fallen down. Worse, I could not get up, yet the water in this steam was barely enough to wet my boots. It was embarrassing to ask the guide to come over and help me up.
      For months I knew I had been more tired than I should have been and while I had been on a low-carb diet the year before, I was eating regularly again but continued to lose weight. My Internist told me not to worry, that he liked my weight, that the fatigue could just be a sign of age or maybe a testosterone problem. But after the fall in Patagonia and I went to his office and made this demand: “I am sick. You find out why.”
      A week later a CAT scan showed some twenty plus tumors, from the lungs to the kidney, from the stomach to the lymph nodes. A biopsy would show that that it was renal (kidney) cancer. I thought that was good news, since it was not lung.
      Renal cell cancer hits about 53,000 Americans a year. In its early stages it can be eradicated with surgery. But since it has few symptoms, it is often found accidentally when the patient is being scanned for other illnesses. For me, the tumor in my stomach, which everybody thought was a bleeding ulcer, fortuitously led to the CAT scan, which showed the greater degree of the damage.
      Advanced renal cell carcinoma is the sixth deadliest cancer in America. Of the 53,000 discovered with it annually, more than 12,000 die within in five years, almost all of them with advanced cancer upon diagnosis. When I was diagnosed in 2005, there was no specific medicine for renal cell and the best bets were that I would have five to eight months to live.
      Almost two years later l remain in the battle and will for a at least thenforeseeable future. As part of my therapyand to keep friends and associates across the country informedI began sending periodic updates of my situation through e-mail. While I was happy to inform them of my progress, or lack of it, I was thrilled to get their replies. They were meaningful and uplifting. And during my travels for any if three industries I work inmagazines, hunting and fishingpeople always commented on how much the e-mails meant to them. Believe me, that was something of a surprise.
      But the main thing I have discovered about cancer? It is not about reporting it or suffering through it, it is about living it. Oh, and it is the most fulfilling thing to ever happen to me.

David Foster is a member of the IMAG board of the Magazine Publishers Association. He is also National Strategic Advisor to Morris National Magazines based in Augusta, Georgia. Until last year he was also Editor-in-Chief and a columnist for Gray’s Sporting Journal, a literature based hunting and fishing magazine. Before joining Morris Communications in 1991, David was editor and publisher of New Orleans magazine, Group Publisher for Consumer Periodicals at Communication Channels Inc in Atlanta (Atlanta magazine and Business Atlanta magazine). Before that he was pretty much an itinerate writer working for newspapers and magazines of all stripe.