Phil Richmond never missed his annual physical, and he considers himself lucky for that. Because he smoked, his doctor performed a chest X-ray every other year. And it was through one such X-ray in 2008 that his doctor noticed a spot on his lung, which was confirmed by a PET scan. The diagnosis was clear: Phil had lung cancer.
“I was lucky I received an early lung cancer diagnosis,” Phil says. “Most cases aren’t caught until later.”
Lung cancer treatment at MD Anderson
Phil was referred to a local surgeon in his hometown of Ft. Smith, Arkansas. But the surgeon quickly admitted he didn’t feel comfortable performing the surgery. It was too difficult, too risky. So, he set up an appointment for Phil at MD Anderson, another step that Phil is certain was critical to his survival.
“If it were not for MD Anderson, I wouldn’t be here today,” Phil says.
“The whole staff couldn’t have treated me any better,” Phil says. “They answered all my questions, no matter how stupid they seemed to me.”
Choosing to be positive
As Phil’s fears subsided, he and his wife decided to make the most of their time in Houston. Even though they were here for lung cancer treatment, they treated it like a vacation as much as possible. They visited museums. They went out for dinner. They even found time to play a few rounds of golf. Phil was surprised he felt well enough to play.
“We stayed as positive as we possibly could,” Phil says. That positivity is the third factor to which Phil credits his survival.
“I cannot tell you how much that helped me, and I know it’s help some others,” he says.
Advice for other patients
After being cancer-free for almost 10 years, Phil dedicates much of his free time to helping other cancer patients keep that positive attitude. He serves on the board of a local cancer nonprofit and volunteers with myCancerConnection, MD Anderson’s one-on-one support program for patients and caregivers.
His best advice for other patients? “Even on the days when nothing’s going right, something will go right. You just have to look for it,” he says. “And never lose sight of that victory you’re going to have, because you’re going to win it.”