For years, Bill Wadding had a persistent dry cough. Each year at Bill’s routine physical exam, the cough was attributed to reasons like post-nasal drip and a side effect of his heart medicine.
“In 2013, my wife threatened me,” Bill recalled. “She said if I didn’t pursue the cause, she would come with me to see the doctor.” So Bill discussed the cough again with his doctor, who agreed to order an x-ray. The next day, Bill’s wife called him at work to say they had found something on the x-ray, and that he needed to see his doctor right away.
“He told me, ‘You have lung cancer and it’s terminal. Get your affairs in order.’ I was in total shock,” Bill said. “I was in excellent physical condition. I did 200 sit ups every day, I went hiking all the time, and I didn’t smoke.” But get his affairs in order, he did. “I took my doctor’s advice to heart. I wanted to make sure to take care of my wife.”
Bill also followed his physician’s recommendation to see Dr. Perez at Sierra Nevada Cancer Center. “Dr. Perez was very serious. He said, ‘We’re going to hit this cancer with everything we’ve got.’ He was positive, so I never felt threatened by the disease.”
Dr. Perez began treatment of Bill’s stage IV lung cancer, which included 18 months of chemotherapy and two months of radiation therapy. “I felt good through most of it. I didn’t really have a reaction to the chemo like you hear about,” Bill reported. “Every person I dealt with through this whole thing was fantastic.” In fact, Bill was inspired to bring coffee for the staff on many treatment days, giving him the nickname, ‘The Coffee Guy’.
With treatment, all four of his masses disappeared. During his treatment, a fifth mass appeared. Because Bill was not able to undergo a biopsy due to diminished lung function, Dr. Perez referred Bill to two other medical centers for additional opinions. The determination by all was that the remaining mass was scar tissue, not cancer. And with that, Bill was declared cancer free one year ago. He has had diagnostic tests performed every four months since, with no evidence of disease.
Interestingly, Bill had been reflecting upon his life just two months prior to his cancer diagnosis. “My dad lived to be 89. I was thinking that if I lived that long, I’d still have 27 more years. A lot can happen in 27 years. But I also decided that if I were told tomorrow that I was going to die, I’d be content because I’ve always been happy, and I’ve always done what I wanted to do. Two months later, I was diagnosed with a rare type of advanced lung cavity cancer.”
During treatment, Bill, a Vietnam veteran who had been close to death more than once, altered his perspective a bit. “At one point, my primary care physician asked me why I was even pursuing treatment. I told him that my whole goal was to keep my wife from flipping out.” He added, “Dr. Perez and his staff were so supportive of my wife, too.”
Bill continues to enjoy life, taking short hikes and kayaking every chance he gets. He also is part of a cancer support group for men, which is his way of paying forward his good fortune and good health.
About Dr. Perez and his staff, Bill said, “I have nothing but praise.”