With the 3rd Annual Raveis Ride + Walk approaching this fall, we have decided to highlight our agents who are winning their battles with cancer. We are happy to share the story of Evan Walsh, from Wellesley, MA on our blog today. Here at William Raveis Real Estate and at our Charitable Fund, we are so proud of Evan and his journey. Here, Evan tells it in his own words.
Every year thousands of people across the country shave their heads for charity in support of people battling cancer but unfortunately, that is not why I stand here bald today. Three months ago I was diagnosed with Stage 3, muscle invasive, bladder cancer. In March, I completed a six-week cycle of chemotherapy and on April 28th, I had robotic surgery, where they removed my bladder and made me a beautiful new one, using a section of my small intestines. But hey, it’s not all bad- I asked to have an extra-large one put in, so when I’m tailgating, I won’t have to wait in line for the bathroom and on those long road trips, no longer will I be “that guy” on the side of the road. It’s also given me an opportunity to buy all sorts of cancer related gear like this “Cancer Sucks” t-shirt, and has allowed me to finally, yet maybe most importantly, be able to wear my funny wigs at open houses. So really, this has just been great!
2 years ago, I was approached by Chris and Meghan Raveis and was asked to work with an incredible fundraising team for the William Raveis Charitable Fund’s 1st annual Raveis Ride + Walk event, in conjunction with the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. I was selected to be on the marketing and promotion committee and had the great honor of meeting and interviewing many of the doctors and scientists who have received a fellowship from Damon Runyon.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Damon Runyon provides hope and funding to some of the youngest brightest minds in cancer research, so that their new and often revolutionary ideas, can be studied and hopefully utilized. I think one of the things that struck me most when doing the interviews, was the unbelievable passion and dedication these individuals had towards their research and their patients. When I asked Dr. Leo Wang from Dana Farber and Children’s Hospital in Boston, “Do you love what you do”? His response was that he had decided as a young researcher with Damon Runyon, that his main goal in life was to cure cancer. He said that he made a choice, to do something that he was so committed to, that it was ok for him to miss out on things in his own personal life, whether it was bedtime with his kids, a baseball game, or birthday parties. If he is with a patient that needs him, then for him, that’s okay and now being a patient myself, I cannot tell you how comforting that determined attitude makes me feel.
The reality is this cancer is some scary stuff. When first diagnosed all there is to do is cry because you are lost and confused. You live in a vacuum and it is a dark and scary place. You spend every minute of the day and many sleepless nights wondering what’s going to happen, wondering if you’re going to live or die, wondering how you will react to the chemotherapy. Naturally, one of the things you start to look for is answers, because answers provide hope and that hope, no matter how big or small, is what you need to stay positive. Once I started getting the answers I needed, that’s literally when things turned around for me. I don’t know if was good luck or karma but everything started falling into place and I started getting signs that everything was going to be okay. It had turned out that my urologist’s wife works for our company in the Newton office, which provided me with some comfort knowing that he must be a pretty smart guy if he’s married to a William Raveis agent! I also found out that my best friend worked for the company that produces the DaVinci robot that will be used in my surgery and knows the technician who trained my surgeon how to operate using this technology. He said he’s one of the top three surgeon’s in the country for this procedure. But maybe the most important answers I received came because I got involved with the Raveis Ride + Walk two years ago.
My first call when I received my diagnosis was to Lorraine Egan, President and CEO of Damon Runyon, who called me back immediately to provide me with information and answers my family and I were so desperately seeking. She did research on Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and on their medical facilities to ensure I was in the right place. She researched my surgeon along with his experience and credentials, specifically for my procedure, to ensure I was in the best hands. She gave me names of other top-notch surgeons in Boston who I could speak with directly, using her as a reference if I wanted a second opinion. She gave me the name of a survivor who underwent the same surgery and is also on the Board of Directors at the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network. He literally spent hours with me on the phone talking about the procedure; what to expect and whatnot. But what Lorraine Egan and my new fellow survivor friend really did was they provided me with hope. Hope which turned my confusion and doubt into optimism.
And now, I am happy to share that my chemo is done, my 13.5-hour surgery is done and my pathology report came back negative with 48 of 48 lymph nodes dissected as cancer-free! Since then life had been great! I have resumed a full-time schedule at work, I have been to the driving range and started golfing again and went fishing yesterday and caught the biggest fish of my life! I feel honored and lucky to have had such great experience with Runyon and all the doctors and people I have met along the way.
Last year, I was sitting where you are now. In your desk chair, reading this as you sip coffee. On the couch, reading this on the phone. I was sitting in your exact seat as cancer was unknowingly, growing inside me. This year, I ask for your support because I have a solution. I ask you to support Damon Runyon and our Raveis Ride + Walk for those who have no solutions and who have no chance at survival. Their only hope comes through the forms of the science and research that Damon Runyon and its fellowship program provides. Together, I know they will cure cancer and we can make a difference!