Help Scott Hollingshead BEat Cancer
The physician working that night just happened to be a kidney specialist, and she confirmed what Scott and his wife already surmised: Something was not right. She referred him to a urologist, and Scott got his wife on the case. She was able to get him into the doctor’s office within two days, so he hurried back home for a round of tests, including a CT scan.
A few days later, Scott received the call that no one ever wants to receive. “We were heading out of town, between Dallas and Oklahoma, when the doctor called me. He asked me to put the phone on speaker so he could talk to both of us.”
The doctor confirmed that Scott had a very large mass on his right kidney, and it looked like it was invading his liver, other parts of his abdomen, and was possibly affecting his lungs.
“Well, we were all in the car—the kids too—so we pulled over, and everyone was very upset,” he recalls. “But, I just said, ‘Well, what do we need to do?’” It’s with this same resiliency that Scott continues to battle cancer.
It turned out that Scott was eligible for a trial that combines a round of chemotherapy with Interleukin-2 (IL-2), which improves his chance of survival by 53%, as opposed to the 2% success rate for patients who do not undergo chemotherapy. He went into surgery to remove the affected kidney just weeks after discovering there was a problem, but Scott’s enthusiasm for life is catching, and he’s not afraid.
“You know, I look around and realize that if I let this get the better of me, then what kind of signals am I sending to my family who is already so affected by it?” Scott’s determination to remain focused on the present and on what he can control keeps him centered.
“I can’t control the outcome,” he said. “I can’t control the future any more than I can control the past, but I can control what I do: trust my doctors and my family.”
For Scott, it just feels easy. When he gets a little down thinking about his situation, he always remembers that he’s in control of a few parts of the situation and the rest, ultimately, isn’t up to him. Scott also looks to his siblings as inspiration. He’s one of six kids in his family, and the third of the six to be diagnosed with cancer—one sibling successfully battled melanoma in her late teens and again in her early 30s, the other has been in remission for 12 years after battling a rare form of sarcoma with a very low survival rate. He figures good fortune runs in his family.
In early October, Scott went through his first week long IL-2 treatment. He was very sick in the hospital from the effects of the treatment. He was off the following week to work on regaining his strength. He has since met with his doctors again to discuss the outcome of the first treatment and while two of the nodules in his lungs decreased in size, several in his abdomen doubled in size. He also found out that he has a nodule in his upper thigh too. He is set to meet with his doctors again on November 15th to discuss when he will start the second IL-2 treatment.
“I wouldn’t tell someone in my situation to stay positive and keep their head up, but I would tell them: It’s all about recognizing what you can control,” he said. “You have choices in the situation—choose to listen to your doctors, choose to accept support from others, and let people be a part of your life. Other than that, I just trust that God has a plan. I don’t know what that plan is, but I hope it involves me hanging around longer!”