Little Rock, AR
As I prepared for bed Saturday evening, I was talking to my wife via the telephone. She had gone out of town for the weekend to visit her Mother when much to my dismay an old familiar feeling started coming over me.

The first time I had experienced a kidney stone attack I was up all night fighting a pain that I had never experienced before. In between rolling on the cold bathroom floor, Advil, hot and cold showers I was trying any and everything I could to diminish the pain of male child birth.  Upon arriving at the hospital at 4:00am and explaining my symptoms the ER nurse said that I was a serious candidate for a kidney stone.  I have to admit that it was a little unnerving dealing with something I had never dealt with before but I was confident that everything would be just fine.  Little did I realize that this would not be the last time that I would need to have the confidence that everything would be just fine?

Fast forward two years to March 2007 and that phone conversation I was having with my wife.  Yes dear, everything is fine butI am feeling the baby kick again.  This time I would have to endure it alone due to the fact that it was 11:00pm and my wife was more than an hour away.  Because I new this time what I was dealing with I wasnt going to burden her with driving all the way home at that hour.  As I am sure that all of you multiple child Mothers would agree that the second time is no less painful but much more bearable because you know what to expect. Or at least I thought I knew.

Upon hanging up with my wife the pain started to intensify so I poured myself multiple glassed of water and settled in for a long hard night. I thought I would be able to tough this on out but I couldnt so I call my brother sometime after 11:00 and asked him to come and get me and take me to the emergency room. Once again, little did I know, this ER visit would possibly prove to be a life saver?

Upon the Doctors consultation of my scan results for the kidney stones, he indicated that there was a mass in my abdomen area that he was not comfortable with and recommended that I see my family Doctor as soon as possible for further consultation. Not being one to over react to things I made an appointment the following week that was convenient for me.  As the Doctor entered the room with my scan reports I could see a concern on his face that I had not seen before.  After all we had been through over the years; I picked up on the fact that this was a different reaction from him.  As a precaution he recommended that I see a Surgeon as soon as possible for consultation and diagnosis of just what the mass was.  Now, I am still not over reacting but I have to admit I am beginning to wonder just what the hell is going on?  After all it was just suppose to be a kidney stone.

Oh well onward to see the Surgeon.  Upon visiting with someone I had never met before I was beginning to pick up on his concerns as well.  He proceeded to inform me that there was a rather large mass but was not sure of its type with out further testing.  In my usual and hereditary way of not over reacting I asked him, knowing the answer, if it belonged in there and he indicated that it didnt so I said  lets get it out of there then we can see about what it is.  A couple of weeks later I found myself admitted and scheduled for surgery to remove the mass that no one was certain what it was.   I was sure that it was nothing.

Upon awakening in my room I saw my wife and in a nonchalant manner asked how everything was going? If she was ok and what was the deal?  All she could tell me is what she thought that she understood from the Surgeons post operation report.  There was a mass of approximately 2 lbs and the size of a football attached to my stomach and that the Surgeon felt that he was able to remove the majority of the mass with little difficulty.  The next day just as I was getting settled in for what I had hoped to be a short and uneventful stay,  when the Doctor appeared at the foot of my bed and delivered the news that would stop one on a dime. There was a mass of approximately 2 lbs and the size of a football attached to my stomach and that the pathology report indicated that there is a malignancy. Woe! Re-group, re-prioritize, re-educate and most of all remember the strength that I have drawn on over all of these years that has allowed me not to over react.

Upon returning home after the surgery one would think that everyone would want to wish you a quick and speedy recovery. Everyone but the insurance companies that is.  It is bad enough mentally preparing yourself to battle this but the additional bureaucracy of health care industry doesnt help.  They were denying the claim for Gleevec which would be ultimately overturned with the help of all of our resources.

I have had to make adjustments in my life since I was told on 4-14-07 that I was a GIST Cancer patient not only with just schedules and appointments but mentally also.  So far the medicine is working, the scans and the blood work are good and everyone involved reminds me of how lucky I am.  I would prefer to think that I am blessed rather than lucky.  There is one problem that I was informed with my three month post op scan.  The damn kidney stone is still there.  I think that I will cut them some slack this time due to the fact that they probably saved my life.

I would like to thank and acknowledge everyone, too many to mention, involved in my ordeal from my family, friends, doctors, nurses.  Most of all I would like to give thanks to our Lord and Savior that promises that all things are possible through him that strengthens us.  I look forward to participating with the foundation in what ever capacity I can to help others endeavor to persevere this disease.
David Dodge