On July 11, 2019, I was diagnosed with a large tumor in my sinus cavity. It was about the size of an avocado. This tumor turned out to be a malignant rare sinus cancer. I am currently undergoing treatment at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

I have decided to write about this experience and share it one piece at a time. There’s so much here, I feel the need to capture the feelings, emotions, joys and anxieties with this process.

There’s so much I don’t know about this process, even the parts already completed. Experts, surgeries, drugs. All stuff I don’t know anything about or understand.

One thing I do know is that I am already different. This is my story …I will update this regularly. Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions. My hope is to share one process to help others who may be facing similar circumstances either themselves or their loved ones.

The Ascent

This is a work in progress.  but right now, I plan to share this journey as best I can through the urging of a good friend.    This is raw.  This is real and my goal is to share what I learn with others.

On July 11, 2019, I was diagnosed with a large tumor in my sinus cavity.  It was about the size of an avocado. This tumor turned out to be a malignant rare sinus cancer.   I am currently undergoing treatment at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.   

I have decided to write about this experience and share it one piece at a time.  There’s so much here, I feel the need to capture the feelings, emotions, joys and anxieties with this process.

There’s so much I don’t know about this process, even the parts already completed.  Experts, surgeries, drugs. All stuff I don’t know anything about or understand.    

One thing I do know is that I am already different.    This is my story …I will update this regularly.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions.   My hope is to share one process to help others who may be facing similar circumstances either themselves or their loved ones.

Something’s not right…

After an incredible trip to Australia and New Zealand – I had been suffering from a prolonged “cold” and stuffed up nose for a few weeks, really since March.    I visited my local doctor, who had prescribed steroids. I took the drugs, and they didn’t work.

I poked around, found a friend who is a doctor and he suggested an ENT (ear nose and throat doctor) way across town.   This doctor, who shall go nameless at this point enters the room, spends approximately 3 minutes typing on her computer, 1 minute looking at me and promptly prescribed steroids.    I object, her response “these are better drugs”.. 

“Thanks, that will be $400 please for my 4 minutes of time”.  Again, I dutifully took the prescription. She says “Call me back in two months”.  Thanks. Nothing changes.

The Backstory

I’m one of the few guys I know that actually do what they set out to study.  I have always loved technology and frankly technology’s ability to transform business.  I just love it. And I’m good at it. I studied information technology in school, went on and got an MBA in international business and subsequently traveled all over the world doing IT and ultimately owning a company overseas.  It’s been an amazing ride …one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. 

Except one problem.  I have been “checking the box” for 30 years.    I had built a business, been in consulting, failed miserably in one startup, bought a business, grew it, worked for huge global consulting companies and built systems that help power the world’s energy industry.

I was controlled by ambition and building the most amazing resume I could build.    But, I was changing. Older, mellower. Less intent on being right all the time, or winning all the time. 

We sold my business a couple of years ago.   That business had consumed me, my health, our finances and mostly, I simply didn’t enjoy it anymore.   But, I had done what I set out to do, build a strong career, a financial plan that works and a beautiful family.    We lost my mom a few years earlier and it impacted my view of life, and how long we really have.   

After careful thought and planning, we executed a successful sale of the business to a large corporation.   At the end, they turned out to be bozos and managed to pull back almost half of the value of the deal. Aside from being annoyed, I had accomplished my objective.  Escape.   

Now, this is a longer story for another time.  But after 30 years, I was tired and Mary and I wanted to travel.  So we did. Alot.

  • Ireland
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Mexico
  • Cuba
  • All over the USA
  • France
  • Spain
  • Hawaii

I’ve constructed a new business and it’s still a work in process and always will be.   I have constructed this one in a way that it will never consume me the way the old one did – and I can run it from anywhere.   The reason I am sharing this is there’s a HUGE lesson here. Do it while you can! Get out there …I will write MUCH more about this.


During this time we also made a decision to purchase a new home.  We had been in our home for 22 years and while we loved it, it was a family home and needs a family.   Our kids are grown and off living their own lives. Aside from a small army of rescued scrappy terrier-like dogs, it is just us.  

We took a long-shot offer on a 55-year-old lake property near Dallas which has some incredible potential but had fallen into disrepair.   We decided to tackle the project. In the end, we’d have an incredible home for the rest of our lives.     This place needed us.  And we needed it.  

We were set to close on my birthday.  We did. To say this place is a project is an understatement, but we manage to close and start a fairly extensive renovation.   I’m pretty sure we’ve seen too much “Fixer Upper” episodes. More on this journey later…

Well, that wasn’t MY plan

So two days after we buy a new property, my Dr. shows me a tumor in my nasal cavity the size of an avocado.

Yes, an avocado, in my head.  That explains a few things.

That moment, we will come back to.  But many people have experienced the moment when they see something that is often fatal, or the beginning of a potentially very long painful journey.  What I did know, and the doctor confirmed, is this was not good.

The local doctor comforted me that this was very likely something known as an “Inverted Papilloma” which is caused by a viral infection and fairly common.     This doctor had the wisdom to refer me over to the best surgical and doctor teams in the Dallas/Texas area at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

OK, fine.  I want this thing out.  Now.

But I will tell you, in that moment – I didn’t experience fear, or panic, or anger or anything except gratitude.  You see at that moment, I truly had the understanding that every single day is a gift and who am I to complain about not getting frosting on my birthday cake …I was immediately grateful for all that I had and will have.   I can’t describe it totally, and even if I did it’s unlikely most will understand.

I don’t know how this reaction will turn my life but there’s a certainty, the world looks different today than it did before this moment.   I finally have an understanding of the reality that we all have. I’m ONLY here because HE wants me to be. I didn’t do anything to earn being here.  It’s a gift.

There is SO much evidence of God’s love around us.   The prayers, the support, the care, the doctors, all of it.   He’s everywhere. We just have to be willing to listen.

I’m definitely on a new path…not I just gotta figure out what it is.

Challenge accepted.

UT Southwestern

Having lived my whole life in Dallas-Fort Worth, I have been “aware” of UT Southwestern, but not really knowledgeable about it.  I knew it was big, one and the largest hospitals in town and the best doctors seem to come from the school there.

When my “Local” ENT told me he was referring me to UTSW, I was surprised.  He went further, he pointed me to the otolaryngology department there, which has over 30 doctors that specialize in these types of things.   He referred me to the department head. A veteran surgeon and has performed “thousands” of these surgeries over 27 years.  

OK, that’s my guy.    He went on to explain that at UTSW, since the tumor was so close to my eye and brain, UTSW can have specialists in the operating room in minutes.     Excellent.

All I can say is wow.  This place is incredible.  From the second I arrived, the care has been off the chart.    The place is enormous, with many buildings to navigate and departments, but they are all working together very well for me.   Right down to the way the staff greet you when you arrive.

I can’t help but feel grateful to have access to such tremendous care.   First off, you require a referral even to get an appointment. Second, I have the financial resources and cost risk in place to deal with it.   It’s also a huge reason to stay in a city like Dallas. I keep thinking, I could be stuck in some small town in Wyoming, hundreds of miles away from average care.  Here, I am 20 minutes from world-class.

Initial Consultation

I met initially with Dr. Bradley Marple, a seasoned surgeon who knows his stuff.   We reviewed the scans and he informs me we will become very good friends over a period of years.   That this condition has a high recurrence rate and we will be staying in a monitoring pattern for years to come.   I mean, the guy was cool and I liked him, but this wasn’t exactly a social visit.  

What matters is Dr. Marple knows his stuff.  He concurs that this is a “non cancerous” tumor.  Relief. We schedule the surgery for about 4 weeks.   

In a pathetic appeal, I ask his assistant his assistant Sally if there’s any way to do it earlier. She literally laughed…these guys are in demand.  I get it. But she got the message. I wasn’t sleeping at this point and the tumor was preventing sleep and was really uncomfortable. She upped the date by two weeks.  Sally is my new best friend.

Surgery and the Call

1st Surgery

We arrive at Zale Lipshy hospital (part of UTSW) and we are greeted by valet parking and smooth check-in.   I’m starting to get a little “fiscal anxiety” because no one can seem to tell me what anything costs or what my responsibility will be.   Deep breath. It will be OK.

The staff proves to be incredible.   I moved from a pre-op, into the surgery itself smoothly, greeted by Dr. Marple in the operating room.   Honestly, I am glad they put me out because I did catch a glance at the “tools” available to him, which appears to consist of a collection of hooks and spoons all designed to go up my nose.   Night night, I’m done.

I wake up to almost no pain and the Dr. explaining they successfully removed the “entity”.

I have a really nice discharge nurse, Julie, who walked through the process including pain management, etc.   

So far so good.  I can breathe. Literally.  The doc schedules a follow up visit in one week.  All good.

The Call

8AM on day 6 after the surgery I get a call from Sally.   She asks what I am doing today and how long it will take me to get there.

Umm, about 40 minutes.   She says just come on down now.

Ummm, OK.  This isn’t good.  We head that way, a little pit in our stomach.

The New Diagnosis

Dr Marple enters the room.  He says there’s been a “change”.   Apparently the non-cancerous thing is actually a rare form of nasal sarcoma like I know what that is.    It’s now about 9:30 AM and he informs us that my case was reviewed by the ‘tumor board’ at UTSW this morning meaning they had to meet at like 7AM, which is a multi-disciplinary panel of experts. Neurologists, Otolaryngologists, Oncologists, etc.    This entire group of really smart doctors reviewed my case as a team and came up with a consensus on my treatment plan.

Whoa. I almost lose it in gratitude. Again.   

The professionalism and skill of these doctors is beyond me.  The care and connection to detail is such a contrast to my experience in the past.  Wow.

I also have a new Dr.  A radiation oncologist.   The treatment plan consists of removing a fragment of my skull where the tumor was attached and covering it with a “vasculated flap” which will eventually turn into scar tissue.

Again, while I am not worried – I am grateful.  I have no idea why.

Have you ever seen your own brain? I have.

2nd Surgery

We moved quickly to the second surgery.  It seemed like an almost duplicate of the first just two weeks earlier.  Except for this time, for some reason, I stayed awake all the way into the operating table.  I was able to glimpse some of the “tools” Dr. Marple will be using to conduct this surgery.  They looked like spoons, hooks, forks all with really long handles.

OK, put me out. Now.

By all measures, the surgery went well.  What I was unaware of was exactly how “deep” they were going.  They essentially removed an entire piece of my skull at the top of my sinus.   Now that made for an interesting headache.

On a follow-up visit, a second doctor scoped the area and actually showed Mary and I my brain pulsating at the top of this hole.   Cool. Now how many people you know can say that they have seen their own brain?   

My comment to my wife, “See, I really have one”.  Her response, “Well now there’s no excuse”.   Nice.

This surgery was a harder recovery, but it’s been consistent and I am feeling better every day.


My surgeries were performed at one of the smaller hospitals in the UTSW system. That said there are alot of nurses and people working.  In fact, it’s overwhelming. After the first surgery, our nurse was “Julie”, who was super nice. She helped make sure I was ready for the trip home and checked off all the tasks before I could be released.  She called the next day and that was that.

Oddly, on the second surgery, we had Julie again.  Out of dozens of nurses, what are the chances? Anyway, we got to talking and she is clearly a “Christian” and we opened a conversation with my daughter about the miracle of life and the human body.   She used the opportunity to describe it all as God’s work and we went on to pray together.    

It was really special.   I found her on facebook and I hope that we remain connected.

I did say to her, “don’t get yourself fired”, she just laughed and said, “I’m old and not afraid of that”.  She was definitely an angel that day.


Sally is Dr. Marple’s assistant.  To say she is a formidable woman is an understatement.  She manages his schedule, answers questions, prepares patients, etc.  She is incredibly competent and kind.   

Honestly, when I first met her she was a little intimidating, but as this has evolved I appreciate her more and more every interaction.   Her attention and care has made a huge difference.  Another angel in the mix.  

Being Served

Serving others means being served sometimes

A friend of mine recently died of cancer.  The really horrible kind.  It was painful, painful for him and painful for his family.   He was being served in a big way by his church (our old church) and finally took a moment to talk about it.  I listened to his testimony and thought wow, how strong.  Who would have known just a few weeks later, I’d be in a similar boat.

The difference for me is MY cancer isn’t normally fatal.  And that’s just luck quite frankly.   Only by the will of God I am here.

The ONLY reason I am here is HE wants me to be.

If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.

Tiff’s Treats Show Up

I didn’t like high school mostly because I was an insecure dweeb.   It wasn’t high school’s fault. But I don’t really like to think about it much.  I have a few friends from that time that I keep up with, but frankly, I’d be happy forgetting about a lot of it.  Don’t get me wrong, all in all, I had a great experience. But, I was happy to move on when the time came.

I decided to post this story on Facebook – mostly just to update my friends.  It’s a super-efficient way to keep people up to date. I received literally hundreds of messages, from old friends, current friends, customers, employees, pastors, etc.   It was nice.

But one friend caught me off guard.   She sent us a bouquet of cookies from “Tiff’s Treats” which are basically cookies from heaven.    

But frankly, I haven’t seen her in decades.   And I gotta tell you this put me over the edge.  I sat in my car and cried like a baby that someone from a part of my life that I wanted to forget cared enough to send this to me.   How selfish of me to not embrace that history in my life…

Yea anyway, she’s been so sweet – along with everybody, but this one got to me.  Thanks, you know who you are. More gifts, friends from decades-long forgotten. Yet again, I did NOTHING to deserve this kindness.

The Wingmen

Wingmen is a Christian men’s organization founded by three-time Superbowl champion and Dallas Cowboy Chad Hennings.    The organization is designed to allow men to connect in a Christian environment and support each other. My “element group” is about 10-12 men and they have been amazing through all this.   

My good friend Dick Siler is sort of the prayer warrior here.  He keeps everyone up to date and I’m constantly bombarded by texts and phone calls from these “brothers”.    This is such a great example of who you hang with defines who you are. These are my colleagues, friends and “brothers”.    Who knows where this would be without the group’s prayers and support.

If you are uncomfortable being served.  Get comfortable.  It’s a cycle.