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A Survivor's Journey Through Cancer and Musical Theater

Edward Miskie

Author, actor, artist, producer, and Burkitt Lymphoma survivor

Edward Miskie joins me for this episode to share how his experiences with cancer have shaped his life, led him to his dreams, and how he is thriving after 10 years as a survivor.

Rare Cancer Misdiagnosed, Traumatic Journey

Edward is the sole survivor of a rare cancer called large B-cell Burkitts non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. This type of cancer is extremely uncommon, with only around 900 to 1200 reported cases worldwide at the time of his diagnosis. Edward's journey is a testament to the challenges faced by those with rare cancers and the importance of accurate diagnosis and timely treatment.

Edward's journey began with a small lump under his left arm, which he initially dismissed as a swollen lymph node. However, as the lump grew larger and more uncomfortable, he sought medical attention. Unfortunately, he was misdiagnosed by a doctor who believed it to be cat scratch fever, a condition that turned out to be unrelated. This misdiagnosis delayed proper treatment and allowed the cancer to progress unchecked.

As an actor working all over the country, Edward's life was filled with excitement and vitality. He felt great, worked out regularly, and had no other symptoms aside from the growing lump. It was a shock when he returned to the city and underwent a biopsy, only to discover that he had a rare and aggressive form of cancer. The lump had grown to the size of a grapefruit, causing discomfort and displacement of his shoulder.

The moment Edward was checked into the hospital remains one of the most traumatic experiences of his life. The sudden realization that he had a life-threatening illness and the uncertainty of what lay ahead were overwhelming. His journey from a seemingly healthy and vibrant young man to a cancer patient was a stark reminder of the unpredictability of life and the fragility of our health.

The misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of Edward's cancer highlight the challenges faced by those with rare cancers. The rarity of his condition made it difficult for doctors to recognize and correctly diagnose it. This emphasizes the need for increased awareness and education among healthcare professionals to ensure timely and accurate diagnoses for all patients, regardless of the rarity of their conditions.

"Getting a second opinion is what saved my life and also saved my quality of life." - Edward Miskie

Edward Miskie, author, artist, actor, producer, cancer survivor

Edward's story also sheds light on the emotional toll that a cancer diagnosis can have on an individual. The trauma he experienced during his hospital admission serves as a reminder of the psychological impact of a life-altering diagnosis. It is crucial for healthcare providers to offer not only medical treatment but also emotional support and resources to help patients navigate the emotional rollercoaster that comes with a cancer diagnosis.

Despite the challenges, Edward has emerged as a survivor and advocate for others facing cancer. He has written a book, "Cancer, Musical Theater, and Other Chronic Illnesses," sharing his experiences and offering support to fellow patients. He has also pursued his passion for writing, producing, and performing, using his talents to raise awareness.

Advocate for Your Own Health

Edward's story highlights the importance of advocating for one's own health. When he was initially diagnosed, the doctors did not provide much information or explanation about his condition. Also, the treatment plan they recommended was not right for him and his condition. It was only when he sought a second opinion at Sloan Kettering that he discovered he had other treatment options that met his needs and honored the quality of life he wanted. This emphasizes the need for patients to question and seek clarification when they feel something is not right or when they are not fully informed about their condition.

Despite being initially hesitant to go against the recommendations of his doctors, Edward's intuition and desire for autonomy pushed him to explore other options. This decision ultimately saved his life and preserved his quality of life.

The support system that Edward had throughout his journey played a crucial role in his ability to advocate for his own health. His family and friends provided emotional support and even helped catch medication errors made by the hospital. This highlights the importance of having a strong support network and being able to rely on loved ones during times of uncertainty and vulnerability.

Edward's story serves as a reminder that patients have a voice and should not be afraid to use it. It is essential for individuals facing a cancer diagnosis or any other serious health condition to educate themselves, ask questions, and seek second opinions if necessary. Being proactive and taking an active role in one's own healthcare can lead to better outcomes and a sense of empowerment.

Furthermore, Edward's story highlights the need for healthcare providers to listen to their patients and take their concerns seriously. The medication errors that occurred during his treatment could have been avoided if the medical professionals had been more attentive and thorough in their approach. It is crucial for healthcare providers to foster open and honest communication with their patients, ensuring that they feel heard and valued as active participants in their own care.

Edward's resilience and determination to take control of his own healthcare serve as an inspiration to others facing similar challenges. By sharing his story, he encourages individuals to trust their instincts, seek information, and actively participate in their own treatment decisions.

Surviving Cancer with Intention

Surviving cancer with intention is a powerful concept that is explored during this episode. Edward shares how he has approached his journey with a sense of purpose and focus. One of the key themes that emerges from the conversation is the idea of embracing cancer as a transformative experience. Edward compares his cancer journey to other significant life events such as puberty, graduation, and college. He acknowledges that cancer is a part of his past, but it does not define him. By viewing cancer as something that has happened and is now behind him, he is able to move forward with a sense of acceptance and resilience.

This episode also emphasizes the message that while challenging situations should be taken seriously, it is equally important to find moments of humor and laughter as a means of coping, healing, and reflecting on the obstacles overcome. I am grateful to Edward for being a shining example.

Listen to the full episode to learn more about Edward's experience during this tough time in his life and get tips on how to move forward when the dust of cancer settles. Check it out by clicking the episode in the SmartPlayer below or listen on your favorite podcast app.

Read the transcript here.


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