What Now? – Bruce McIntyre’s Post Cancer Wellness

Bruce McIntyreThree years ago, Bruce was diagnosed with throat cancer. The ordeal started after noticing a bump that came up quickly on April 13, 2010. It was at first suspected to be a blocked saliva gland. A few days of antibiotics, and the bump was still there. Bruce visited an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Two needle biopsies and four ultrasound biopsies turned out negative. It was looking as if Bruce was cancer free and the bump was something else. Having a feeling that something still was not right, his physician wanted to schedule an operation. On May 13, 2010 — one month after the bump appeared — Bruce was going into surgery.

“When I came around in the recovery room, there he was, with the simple words…”you have cancer,” Bruce Mclntyre said.  “I went back to sleep.”

Bruce was diagnosed with Squamous cell carcinoma in his neck and tongue. The road ahead was not going to be easy. Because the treatments were going to cause Bruce’s throat to close, he had a feeding tube inserting in his stomach. For four months nothing went down Bruce’s throat; everything was inserted through the tube.

The feeding tube was only the beginning for Bruce’s treatments. He was faced with 35 radiation treatments and two chemotherapies. After lying under a custom facemask, and strapped to the table to restrict movement, the 25-minute-long treatment was performed. The doctors were not just going for a temporary fix, but for a complete recovery.

“I began treatment being able to drive myself to the hospital and walk in under my own power,” Bruce said. “I ended by being driven to the hospital, helped out of the car and needing to be wheeled in and helped on the table.” In addition to losing his voice for a few weeks, he had limited energy and strength. A full day’s work for Bruce entailed a short walk in the backyard that required resting for a time on a bench halfway around his small yard.

A husband, father and grandfather, Bruce has always been reasonably fit, but the treatments had him sidelined for quite some time. It took months for Bruce to be able to walk, drive, and get back into the routine of life.  During the recovery process Bruce did not only want to be back to normal, but he wanted to be better and healthier than before.

Bruce is a fighter. Post cancer and against all odds; he completed his first sprint triathlon at age 71. Going from a feeding tube to running a triathlon in just under two years’ time is a story of pure determination and inspiration.

Bruce’s discovery of 24 Foundation was not planned; it just kind of happened. He always knew the riders back up traffic for miles on the Booty Loop in the Myers Park community, but never had an inkling that one day he would be a top fundraiser for the event. Living in the area Bruce has stood on the sidewalks and cheered the riders on, but after being determined to bounce back, he decided to ride in the event. The ride for Bruce is very personal. He is riding this year on the three year anniversary (to the day) of the last of his 35 radiation treatments.

Bruce answered his “what now” question by embarking on his post-cancer wellness program and by continuing to raise awareness and support to knock out cancer.  With the help of his loving family, supportive friends, and wonderful doctors, Bruce overcame his battle. “It’s personal” has become one of Bruce’s slogans. Being a cancer survivor Bruce knows firsthand how tough life after cancer can be. This subject is very close to his heart because he has seen the money 24 Foundation raises at work.

“For me it is just the realization of how precious life is and how I want to live in the moment and enjoy each day as a gift,” Bruce said. “I now want to maintain my body in such a manner that I can be fully engaged spiritually and mentally for the balance of my life.  Seventy-two does not seem as old to me as it once did.”