It was a mild breezy spring day in 2013. I had just hit a tee shot down the left hand side of #1, which made a fortunate bounce into the fairway, leaving me a short iron from the green. However, before making that short iron shot, the call I received hit me like a ball going out of bounds. The doctor said, “Mr. Embry, the pathology report confirms you have cancer”.
About a month before, I had developed a very sharp pain in my side. My doctor sent me for a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis of diverticulitis. The diagnosis was confirmed, however, something else was concerning the doctor. I was scheduled for a colonoscopy – I was 49. I had many polyps, but the most concerning was a large cancerous looking polyp. Before I go any further, I want to say there is nothing like hearing “you have cancer”. However, there is also nothing like hearing “you are cancer free”. I’m blessed!
During 2013 I had several scopes to remove unhealthy tissue, but it wasn’t working. The doctors recommended having a procedure to remove the small segment of my colon that had produced the cancerous polyp and continued to produce pre-cancerous polyps. It was scheduled for January, and I thought to myself, “Good, let’s get this behind me, let’s get this over with”. This disease had taken enough of my time and energy already. With family, work, coaching (I was looking forward to my 15th spring of coaching high school golf) I didn’t have time for cancer! I’m blessed!
The procedure went well, with only a few days in the hospital. After a couple weeks I was feeling much better and went to see my surgeon for my follow up, but it was another loose shot. The pathology report showed the colon wall contained cancer cells. There was a possibility the cancer had spread. My surgeon recommended I have a colon resection (remove the lower third of my colon and all lymph nodes involved).
On March 6th the colon resection was performed successfully. However, I was left with a temporary ileostomy, which would be reversed eight weeks later. I was told the basic recovery would take several weeks and a full recovery may take up to a year. After a few days stay in the hospital, I went home looking forward to returning to my normal routine, which included family, work, & coaching. I’m blessed!
Once again, after a couple of weeks I went for my follow up. What a well struck shot! My surgeon said, “You are cancer free!” I understand that there is the possibility of recurrence, but boy, to hear those words! If you are currently battling any sort of cancer I pray you hear those words! I was able to work from home and with time, began spending more hours in the office, being with everyone and being useful was good medicine for me. In addition, although limited, I was able to get to the course with the team! To spend time with them, our head pro, and all the staff at the course, that was good medicine as well! Overtime, I was back to a full practice and match schedule. I gradually got back where I could play and was even able to participate in a charity scramble with one of my daughters and a couple of family members. It was a great day! Not just because we finished -14 and I was able to make a putt or two and hit a couple of good iron shots; but because I was back working, coaching and playing golf! I’m blessed!
Toward the end of spring I had a procedure to reverse the ileostomy. Physically, this recovery was more difficult than the colon resection. As I was able to spend more time at the office and the course with everyone; it was still good medicine for me! As winter approaches, I’m almost back to my old self, maybe even a better self after this journey! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many knowledgeable and compassionate health care professionals and connecting with others fighting and recovering from cancer. I’m blessed with a great wife, Dawn, who stayed by my side every step, loving daughters (Tosha & Carissa), family, & friends who gave me untold encouragement and support! I’m blessed!