April 6, 2020

You Are Not Alone In This Fight

Kenny Perkins

I created this podcast All Talk Oncology so patients could come to one place and get updated discussions with industry experts and leading professionals as they navigate through their cancer journey. And not only for the patients, it's for their family, and their friends or anyone who wants to know a little more about cancer.

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Hello everyone, and welcome to All Talk Oncology. I’m your host, Kenny Perkins aka the cancer guy and I think it would be an understatement if I said how excited I am at this point, I’ve been in this industry now for 20 years. Helping patients fight cancer. I am a national licensed, radiation therapist. And I’ve also became a cancer coach so I can add that to my portfolio as well. But let me tell you, it’s been one of the most amazing careers in my life and I wouldn’t change this for anything, you know, to be able to help and assist people go through, probably, one of the most darkest times in their life is an honor to me. And one of the reasons I created this show was one, there was a need. You know you get to see firsthand what these patients are going through and what it’s doing to their families and friends and their loved ones. And you want to help and give back more than what you’re giving. And at least that’s how I feel. So All Talk Oncology, I created this so that patients could come to one place and get updated discussions with industry experts and leading professionals as they would navigate through this cancer journey and not only for the patients. Again, it’s for the family and the friends or anyone who just want to know a little bit more about cancer and in All Talk Oncology what it is, Its cancer discussions made simple. And, you know, that kind of like my tag if I would say. Its cancer discussions made simple. And what I would hope for is we continue in this journey is that even if you bought your twelve-year-old here to the podcast they would understand the discussions that are being had. And so that was my primary reason creating this podcast.

Being in the health field wasn’t something that I originally set out to do with. If you would ask me when I was a little boy, what I wanted to do you would find out that I wanted to be an architect. I knew for sure that I wanted to get out there and design and create for the world. That’s what I loved. I enjoyed that so much. It was my passion for sure. In fact, by the time, I became a senior in high school, I took these classes. These classes are call ROP. ROP is something that’s offered after school for high schoolers and so I went to this ROP class, and it was for AutoCAD, and I was the only teenager in the entire class. Everyone else were professionals. They were suited and booted. At, if you were, they came in. They had their briefcases. A ladies came in their Blazers and Scourge it. It was, I was the only young guy in there, but that’s, I loved it. And this is what I wanted to do that. I was surrounded by colleagues. Because right now, I was just alright for me it was a highlight to be surrounded by adults who were actually doing what I conspired to do. And so unfortunately, when I graduated, we were in a recession now at that time. No one told me that recessions. They come. And they go, I didn’t know that. So, I was like, oh my goodness, I guess I can’t do this. And I, and I didn’t have the understanding of what that was. So, I missed out in a sense but not really, but I thought I did. So, I knew I needed to get a job and I needed to kinda reconfigured and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. So, I end up going to a hospital, apply for a hospital. And it’s interesting because the reason why I apply for the hospital a year prior my junior year in high school had taken an ROP class for Hospital transportation and I chose that because that would allow me to go and see the different departments and kind of get a feel of what everyone doesn’t and see if there’s anything that kind of stands out to me and it was kind of nice. I mean being a junior in high school and being around adult, it was okay so as I got out of high school, I applied for a radiology assistant. And a radiology assistant, basically, my job was to take patients back and forth to their rooms from radiology. And so, I had the privilege of taking patients down, get their chest X-ray had barium enema has that intravenous studies down in the Cath lab. You know, so I learned a lot being in radiology

And so, during this during this process of being a radiology assistant. You know, there was a time where I was asked to take a patient to radiation oncology. Now, radiation oncology at the hospital, I was at was in a different building. It wasn’t even in the same building as all the other departments. So, as I go there, I got a feel for what was happening was kind of curious and kind of asking around and found out that those patients would come in for treatments Monday through Friday. Monday through Friday they would come in for treatments and then off on the weekends. So, to me, I thought, man that’s kinda cool because this is so much different than x-ray, right. In X-ray where you come in, you bring the patient down for chest x-ray. You having to stand there, take a deep breath, take the exam, run the films, send the patient back up to the room. You’re done. You may or may not see that patient again did their entire stay. So that’s kind of how x-ray is, it’s boom, boom. And then they’re out of there. So, with radiation therapy was a little different, right? Because you really got to establish a relationship with a patient. And so, when I told everyone, I was like, you know, radiation oncology is kind of cool. I like radiation oncology. They were like; you don’t want to do that. You know radiation oncology is so depressing, you know, if you’re going to do something, Do nuclear medicine or going to like Cats scan or do some type of Cath lab procedure and I was more like, you don’t tell me what to do, you know, don’t tell me what to do. You know, I kind of like radiation oncology I like establishing a relationship with a patient in and not just, you know, have them here for that for that period of time and then sending them back. So, I was like, you know, I think Im going to pursue this. I’m going to look into this a little bit more and so I did, and I loved it. I loved it. Because, you know what, if you know anything about me and I hope you will. I just love people. And when it comes to establishing a relationship and being able to talk about your family, what you’ve done, what is your line of work and where did you come from, where’s your family from? Getting to know a person in building that relationship, I love that. And so, radiation oncology allowed me to do just that. And so, once I figure it out, okay, this is the profession I’m going to move into I thought will let me be smart about it right . I figure let me be smart about it. Because what if they come up with a cure for cancer and then I’m going to be really in trouble. And I’ll be back to square one looking for a career again. So no, I didn’t want to do that. So, I was like, yeah, let me be smart about this. How, how can I go about getting into radiation oncology? And so, what I decided to do was I thought let me become an X-ray tech first. So, I went to school became a radiologic technologist which is an x-ray tag. And then I pursued further education at Loma Linda University to become a radiation therapist.

So that’s kind of the path. I took as a protection for me because I was like if they cure cancer. I’m going to be okay. I’ll still have a job and it was fun while it lasted and thank God, they came up with a cure right. But here we are 20 years later, and we still don’t have a Cure. So how can we change that, right? How can we work on that? That’s, what we’re going to try to try to find out because that’s the ultimate goal, right? Is to find a cure for this horrendous disease. And so that was kind of my background. So, as I finally finished school, now I’m ready right. I’m full-fledged therapist. You’re in the trenches and you really, really start to learn about what it is a patients go through and what’s happening and in a  lot of times patients are really pushed into this this disease, right? They’re kind of shoved in you know what I what I mean by that is not like it’s an elective and if you recall like in school, right? You have the option; you have the elective. You say, well, I’m going to choose my elective to be foods. A lot of people love that. Right? Everyone loves to eat, or I’m going to get into, you know, arts and crafts. With cancer, you don’t get an option. It’s not on the menu, you get pushed into this in. So now, here you are with this disease and this diagnosis and scary. I mean, it’s overwhelming to be honest. And I’ve seen it, I’ve seen these patients and I’ve seen what they have gone through and it’s not fun. And so, to All Talk Oncology, that’s what I hope that it can bring. You can bring some type of security, some type of comfort with these patients can come in under kind of like that umbrella, right? And get the knowledge that they need in order to be successful throughout their treatments.

You know, life sometimes, it’s up and down and sometimes we find ourselves in dark places. For me, I recall being in a dark place, it was a nightmare. My life was upside down. You know, I was going through a divorce. Relationships with my family and friends were at its ultimate low. My relationship with God was on the Rocks, I had destroyed that. I was in a bad place; it was not anything that I had chosen or expected my life to be. And let me tell you, when you get to that place where it is dark and sometimes you want a mask that you don’t want to deal with the reality and that was me. I didn’t want to deal with the reality I just went to amass that pain that I was going through and so what ended up happening because of that I found myself creating habits that hurt me later in my life even more. So, I thought it was in pain before at least habits in my lifestyle at that time will worse. And so how do I get out of that? The way I can describe that dark place is kind of like being in the middle of the ocean and imagine that. Imagine being in the middle of the ocean and you look around. You see No land. You can’t see the shore in sight, and you think how I’m going to get back. You just stuck out here and that’s exactly how I felt. I thought my life was just, it was lost. And when I looked at it that way, the only thing I can do is just cry and I just broke down because I looked at my life and I thought, how did I get here? But how did this happen? And it felt like forever. I was just giving up those tears. I didn’t think I was going to stop crying and what ended up happening during that process, I realize, I needed to make a change. I had to make a change. And so, I decided, in order for me to get away from these bad habits are created, and kind of rebuild my life again, I knew I needed a coach, I needed someone to help me with a healthy lifestyle, and so, that’s how I came and got into fitness. It was, it was through that. And so, I end up acquiring a coach, and he put me on a plan. He gave me a fitness regimen and he told me this is what I need you to do, and I need you to check in with me and this is going to be your regiment. And so that’s what we end up doing. I end up doing that. But I also knew that there was so much going on internally as well, and I wanted to work that piece out as well. So, as I was working, physically with weights in the physical workout, also wanted to work emotionally and spiritually on who I was in the inside. And so as I work that process, I was also working internally. So externally with the physical and internally with the emotion and spiritual. And so I’ve been chewing got away from all of those bad habits and left those things behind. And finally was able to see the light. And I think my coach for that, helping me to  that light in it and I sent all of that to say, this is very similar in the sense of being in a dark place when you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you’re going, you can’t see the land, you can’t see the shore, you know, things happen. So rapidly, right. Whether you have breast cancer? Whether you have prostate cancer with whatever you’ve been diagnosed with and things happened fast, right? It’s like, okay, we could guess what? We need to get Labs. Okay, the next thing we need to do, we need to get a biopsy. Okay? And now we need to get you scheduled for surgery. Now after surgery, we need to get you down to the medical oncology so you can get your chemo. Now at your chemo, you’re going to be doing this for x amount of weeks. And also, your hair may fall out during the infusion sessions as you go along this process. Now, the surgery chemo your hair falling out. We’re not done yet. We need to get you down a radiation oncology because of the type of cancer that you have there and then they’re going to talk to you about the skin care and wound care and things like that there may potentially happen because of the treatments, it just keeps going. It just keeps going and going and going and you just falling deeper and deeper. If the rabbit holes, the word I want to use and I it just seems like you keep sinking down this hole. Just thinking about that. It’s just is overwhelming and so, how do you deal with that right? Because that’s where we come in at as to ask that’s professionals and as a radiation therapist, I am there with you in those trenches. There’s no way I can understand what you’re going through, and you think about, did you tell your family you been hit with all of this? Do I tell my family what’s going on? And how about my parents or my kids? How do I discuss this with them? I’m still in shock and it this is just this is overwhelming, how do I get here. That piece right there, I can only imagine on how difficult that is. And I say, I can only imagine, you know, I gave you my experience of what it’s like to be a dark at the in a dark place, but to be able to be in a position to have to fight for your life. That’s a whole different ballgame. And so, even when I was in my dark place, when I would come to work, I would say to myself. My problem is not a big as cancer, and I knew that even though didn’t they were still my problems and they cause anxiety, they still weren’t bit as big as cancer.

Understanding what the patient goes through and the type of support that they going to need through that process. I welcomed it with open arms, let’s do it whatever I can do. And for me understanding that this was such a life-changing experience for this patient. Now, imagine going through everything. I just talked about in a process and how quick those things go about. Imagine not telling your family members about you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and now you going to have these treatments. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in 20 years that I’ve been treating cancer patients. I’ve seen it quite a few times. Patients, do not tell their family or friends, what they’re going through, they don’t even tell them their employer, what they’re going through. So, can you imagine carrying that burden? Going through this cancer Journey. Oh my goodness, I said its overwhelming. It’s overwhelming. I just thinking about that. It’s going in, my heart goes out. And yeah, thats what we were. That’s what we were there. We were there to help and assist. And for me, becoming a cancer coach was so important because I knew there was a piece there that was missing for these patients, someone that help guide them through that, dark period of time, where they were going through that time, where they needed a beacon of light to help navigate them. And then whether that be in the beginning, the middle or the end of their treatment it doesn’t matter. Just being able to be a beacon of light in as they go through this journey. Now that, sign me up for that and I and I did, right? And so being a therapist, you’re so much more than a therapist and I want to say that to all the therapist out there they may be listening. You are much more than just a therapist. And I’m going to say that again, you are much more than just a therapist. You know these patients, they depend so much on your end. Not only therapist I want to talk about the nurse practitioners. I want to talk about the nurses. I want to talk about the social workers. I want to talk about the front desk members, who they meet, all the physicians were there, the entire cancer team. It’s so much more than what your title is. And to me, I have embraced the position I’ve been in and it’s a blessing, it’s a blessing to be able to be a part of this cancer Journey. It’s a blessing to be able to have All Talk Oncology where we can create this platform so patients can get that security that they need the help them through that Cancer Journey that they’re going through.

People ask me they said, hey how did you come up with a cancer guy? And it’s kind of different ain’t no. The way I came up with a cancer guys, you know, not too many people going to remember, Kenny Perkins. And I’m not going to flatter myself and go. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, they’re not going to remember me. But the concept came from the Puerto Ricans. And I love Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, I’ve been in Puerto Rico, probably over a half dozen times and there’s something unique to happen to Puerto Rico and it’s the way they give directions, right? And so, this is how they help you to remember where to go. They said okay you go down this street and when you’re going down the street, you going to come to a greenhouse, okay? When you get to that green house with a yellow stripe on it, keep going straight. That’s not where you need to go. Keep going straight. Are you going to see an orange fire hydrant on your right? Okay, when you get to that orange fire hydrant don’t stop there. Keep going straight. There’s going to be a hamburger stand on your left hand side when you see that hamburger stand. Turn right. Okay. When you turn right, you going to come to a stop sign when you get to that stop sign that’s not where you need to go. Go to the next light. The next light you’re going to see a liquor store right there on the corner, turn left. So that’s kind of how they gave direction is right. But let me tell you, as I went on that journey and to get to my destination, I looked at the greenhouse with yellow stripe. Oh I seen the pink fire hydrant, oh I found the hamburger stand that was there on the corner and know that there was the the liquor store and saw the same thing. You know, you hear that you have that person is talking about cancer but what’s that guys name? You know, that guy that that guy that guy that was talking about cancer, the cancer, the cancer guy. And that’s how I came up with her with the name. So, You know, its funny experiences in life, right? What they teach us. So, you know, just want to say You’re Not Alone. I want to let the patient know and all those who are listening are going through this cancer Journey, You are not alone, okay? And that negative mind. Sometimes pops up when you least expect it, and you sitting there, you’re chewing on what’s happening in the process. You got to get away from the negative mind. You have to take control back and be in the driver seat. Because what happens is, you let that negative mind. Take control, he doesn’t know what to do that negative mind. He is so afraid of what potentially could happen that may not even happen, but in his mind it’s going to happen and its afraid. And you know what? You can’t have that person driving. No, you need to take control you. No not today. I’m driving, you know, and if he fights you, you know what you fight back? Okay? Because it’s kind of like an analogy. I would say is imagine a little, a little kid. You know, and you look down, and they’re scared, right? It’s the earthquake is happening, or something is taking place, whatever. They may be afraid in the closet, of the boogieman, or whatever it may be, right? And you look down and they’re afraid and so you reach down, and you grab their hand and you let them know, don’t be afraid, your mommy and daddy is here and were going to take care of you. You going to get through this right. We’re right here with you and that does something to that little kid, right? That gives him that security that they need, and it removes that fear that that they are experiencing. And it’s the same way. It’s the same way with cancer, you have to be in control. We have to reach inside that little kid inside of us and let them know they’re going to be okay. And that’s what we do here in All Talk Oncology, that’s what we help you to get experienced by some of the leading experts that I’ll be on the show and I’m so excited. I’m so excited to be able to bring that to you and look forward to hearing all of your stories and what we’re doing and what we can do to help you fight against cancer here.

And so, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for tuning in to the show today. And I want to say, do me a favor. If you know someone who can benefit from listening to this show, share the link with him, you know, share the link, share the post that you have about this podcast. If you know, someone shoot him a text, give him this information. Because if there’s a lot of people right now, that are out there that need help and if we can do anything to help them, let’s do it. Let’s do it. You know, we talked about the coronavirus, and we look at, oh this is a pandemic and what’s happening? Why, well guess what? You see what it’s doing to the entire world, right? What about cancer? Cancer has been a pandemic for years and its worldwide. So let’s put that same energy also and helping look for the Cure. Let’s put that same energy and looking for the Cure of cancer as well. The momentum that we have right now, the show that we have, the podcast that we have, the same energy that we need to put in, in looking for the cure for cancer. You know, this is an amazing time that we live in, and the momentum has shifted. All of us are feeling it and so, it’s a great opportunity for all of us to get together. There’s so many things that are that are going on in the cancer industry right now. And I’m privileged. I feel so privileged to be able to bring All Talk Oncology to you. And so, if you know anyone that can benefit from the show, as I was saying earlier, give them that information. Share the website with them. Its alltalkoncology.com write that down and share that information with him. Let them know that were here for them. We are going to have an array of different topics and covers so many things. And so once again I want to tell you, thank you so much for joining All Talk Oncology, I’m your host, Kenny Perkins aka the cancer guy and until next time I’m out.

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The information, views, and opinions shared and discussed in this podcast are the experiences of the guest and host which are not meant to serve as medical advice and do not necessarily state or reflect the official views and position of All Talk Oncology.  Please consult your medical professional for all your medical-related questions and guidance.