Richard W. Hayes
In March 2011, Richard W. Hayes was given a vision to start a foundation that would provide cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers with timely information about carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma.
One year earlier Rich was floating from hospital bed to hospital bed at the mercy of surgeons, chemicals and a cluster of cells that had taken up residency on his parotid salivary gland, just beneath his left ear, with a threat to further invade and ultimately kill.
“I don’t want to waste my cancer,” said Rich in a blog post from April 26, 2010.
“I know that my experience is meant to be shared. Those who know me know that I’m a private person that prefers to encourage over promoting oneself. Since I know God doesn’t make mistakes, He must have chosen me to for a specific reason. He has a plan for each of us.”
Typically stage IV cancer is a less than promising diagnosis, but Rich’s story is far from typical.
As a husband, father and business owner, otherwise routine days became unrecognizable. Where he was once researching prospective clients, he was now digging into a fog of medical terms and clinical trials. Where his wife once carpooled the boys, she now carpooled Rich to and from doctors' visits and treatments.
Between March and August 2010, the cells had been recognized as cancer, removed along with Rich’s left facial nerve, muscle and more than 75 affected lymph nodes in a series of procedures, treated with radiation and chemotherapy, and miraculously eliminated from Rich’s body.
Although five months dragged on like he thought they never would, Rich maintained focus on freedom even when he was told it would not come.
“This leg of my journey is a vapor, a puff of smoke, a short excursion when compared to forever,” he said in a blog post on August 11, 2010, two weeks before doctors deemed him cured.
“You’re not in remission, you’re simply cancer free,” they told him just when he had begun to accept the reality of his circumstances.
Now three years later, Rich glances back at his cancer as a stepping-stone to the platform he holds as a survivor.
He has shared his story at churches and conferences, a miracle in itself since the left side of his face is permanently paralyzed making speech a challenge all its own. Still he plans to keep talking so that others might not wonder if there is hope at the end of CXPA cancer, because, despite the looks of it, there is.