JANUARY 24, 2019 CancerLINC NEWS
Less Sleepless Nights
Thanks to CancerLINC
Darnell Henson Sr. knows a miracle when he sees one. All he has to do is look in the mirror.
In February, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer. Although he didn't know it then, the prognosis was that he only had a few months to live, even though his doctor told him he had 2 or 3 years.
His diagnosis came out of nowhere. Mr. Henson regularly worked out at the gym and had never been hospitalized. When he developed a sharp pain in his stomach, he thought it was food poisoning, but the pain became so unbearable that he was rushed to the hospital. An MRI and full body scan revealed that he had cancer in his kidney, brain, lungs and a mass on his left hip bone. The cancer was so severe that his doctor recommended he stop working and cancel his gym membership.
Mr. Henson began chemotherapy, and had to undergo several medical procedures as part of his treatment. Each time he was put under anesthesia, there was one nagging concern that wouldn't go away.
"Every time they put me under, I would be always wondering what would happen if I didn't wake up." Mr. Henson didn't have a will or any other life planning documents in place to protect his wife, Leslie, and son, Darnell Jr, in the event of his death.
"This was something that I knew I needed done, but I kept putting it off," said Mr. Henson, who turned 59 in November. "I felt bad that at my age, I didn't have those things in place. I knew better, but you know how you procrastinate on stuff." Each trip to the operating room made him more anxious, and caused him sleepless night.
While undergoing chemotherapy, he learned about CancerLINC, which provides cancer patients and their families with referrals to pro bono legal services, financial planning and community resources. He contacted CancerLINC initially because he had questions about employment issues. CancerLINC answered those questions, and
also helped him complete a will, power of attorney and medical directive. "When you're dealing with cancer, everything just piles up at once. You're dealing with chemo, dealing with insurance, dealing with doctors, it all piles up." All of that, and not having his life planning documents in order were weighing on him, he said. "That's what CancerLINC did for me. They took the weight off my shoulders by doing that paperwork."
Mr. Henson said he doesn't know how he would have made it through his illness without the support of a loving wife, son, family, friends, a strong faith in God and help from CancerLINC. "It's not a good feeling when someone's putting you under anesthesia and you're wondering what will happen (to your family) if you don't wake up. Because of what CancerLINC did, that's something I don't have to worry about anymore. ... I sleep better at night.
Last month, Mr. Henson learned that his doctor didn't tell him that he initially thought he only had a few months to live because of the severity of the cancer. Mr. Henson said his doctor didn't want him to become discouraged, and he's glad the doctor didn't tell him the initial prognosis. When he began treatment, the doctor placed Mr. Henson on a therapeutic drug that had not yet been approved for use in the United States, but was showing promise in other countries. The drug, which was approved in the U.S. shortly after Mr. Henson began taking it, has produce some miraculous results, and has helped shrink many of his tumors and caused some to disappear completely.
Mr. Henson, who continues to do a light workout, said it is important to stay positive and to trust God. "When you find out that you got cancer, the first thing you think about is that you're going to die," he said. "I don't think about dying anymore. I get up, and as soon as my eyes open, I thank God for another day."