STOMP The Monster™ provides financial and other support to cancer patients, their families, and caregivers when they need it most – during their fight with the disease. We promote a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise, leading by example, and provide funding for potential advances in prevention and treatment.
My name is Seth Grumet. I am a business owner, a devoted husband and father to 3 wonderful children. I am an Ironman. I plan to be a Cancer survivor. This is my story.
I had been training for 6 months to compete in my 2nd Ironman Triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile run. Needless to say, I was in the best shape of my life. One Friday morning, on a 100-mile bike ride, things just didn’t seem right. Usually I was one of the people on the training ride doing my share of the hard effort by staying in front and breaking the wind resistance so others did not have to pedal as hard. For some strange reason, on this day I could barely stay with the training group. I went to my regular physician and he sent me home with an inhaler and diagnosed me with “allergies.” Over the next two days, things seemed to progress in the wrong direction — shortness of breath and feeling lousy in general; I decided to see a pulmonologist. The Doctor said things didn’t sound great and he sent me for a chest x-ray. Once he had a chance to review the x-rays, he said “You have a pneumonia that doesn’t look normal–so I want you to get a CT Scan.” Thinking it was just a cold, on top of my stubbornness and a very busy schedule, I waited about 5 days and called him back. “Do I really need to go for the CT Scan?” My Doctor then said “I don’t order unnecessary tests, so get yourself down there and get it done.” Needless to say I went the next day. About an hour after I had the CT Scan, the Doctor’s Office called me and said the Doctor would like to see me. I asked if next Tuesday (1 week) was OK, and the office said “The Doctor would like to see you today…Can you be here in an hour?” At that point, my stomach dropped — I knew this wasn’t pneumonia…….
On Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 at 11:48am, I called my beautiful wife Margie and asked her to drive me to see the doctor — I just needed her to be there. I got to the Doctor’s office and he didn’t pull any punches — “You have a tumor in your chest about this big (his fist)” and…that is about all I heard. He talked to my wife, but I didn’t hear anything. “This can’t be…not me. I am healthy, I take care of myself…this just can’t be…”
The recommendation was to have a surgical biopsy, as a needle biopsy doesn’t always give a definitive reading for certain tumors. Two days later I was in surgery. The procedure took 3 hours longer than it was supposed to. The surgeon went through the side of my body with 3 large incisions, collapsed my lung, put in a chest tube, and I spent 4 days in the hospital. This was a very intense and invasive procedure. The recovery was not easy and I was in a considerable amount of pain. The most unfortunate part — the sample was not readable. Without this valuable cellular evidence, the doctors could not determine the specific type of cancer, which in turn delayed any type of treatment. I was stuck in a holding pattern for over three weeks waiting to see if there was any way to squeak out a cell or two from the sample the doctor had tried to take.
I went through that surgery for NOTHING (can you tell I was a bit upset?)!! I decided it was time to find a more experienced team to get the next sample. Four weeks later, with the help of several friends and acquaintances, I was able to get an appointment with the head Thoracic Surgeon at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. He looked at me and said “I am going straight in here (center of my chest), I will take a piece of rib out, get the sample, show it to a pathologist, if it is good, I will close you up, if not, I will get another sample. I have an opening in about two weeks.” I went home and received a phone call “We have an opening if you can be back in NYC by tomorrow 7am.” I took it.
That surgeon did EXACTLY what he said he would do, and he got the pathologist a viable sample!! Although I was still reeling from the first surgery, I was relieved that a readable sample was extracted.
The diagnosis was delivered – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. All of my symptoms – night sweats, weight loss, breathing issues, etc. made sense now. I had a tumor the size of an orange growing into my right lung on one side, and the vessels of my heart on the other.
Telling my children was not easy. My oldest, Mariah (13), after a few conversations was nervous, but understood. My youngest, Stevie (7), was too young to understand, so I just told him “Daddy might not feel good for a few months.” Maddy (10), my middle child digested the info my wife and I gave her and then said “Dad, your Cancer is the Monster under the floorboard…You just have to STOMP IT OUT!!” I was blown away.
After several weeks of Bone Marrow Biopsy (ouch), PET Scans, Heart Scans, Pulmonary function tests, blood test after blood test, etc., it was confirmed that my body was ok for chemotherapy. In June 2010, I had my first chemotherapy session. One of the side effects of chemotherapy is that, while it destroys the “bad” cancer cells, it also destroys the “good” white blood cells (WBCs), which your body needs to fight infections. Chemotherapy patients are often given an injection of a medication to promote the additional growth of WBCs. About an hour after I was given that shot, I started to feel like I couldn’t breathe, broke out in hives, and my blood pressure dropped to dangerous levels. The ambulance came and took me to the hospital, where I spent 3 days before being released. No more of that medication!! But that meant I would be dealing with dangerously low WBC counts throughout my treatment…I had no choice.
Cancer, chemotherapy, and all the things that go with it are rough to go through, not just for me, but also for all the people that care about me – but I am very lucky. My family and friends supported me in an unmatchable manner. Food was being delivered to my home; friends and family offered rides to treatment; people offered to help with the kids; visits, calls, you name it – we were covered. I am lucky and thankful to have the most amazing people surrounding my family. What I quickly learned was not everyone was as fortunate. This is the reason that STOMP The Monster™ was started. I met people during chemotherapy that needed help and I want to help them. Some could not get rides to treatment sessions, some were simply going through this alone, while others still had to take care of their families and homes while suffering through the sickness that comes with treatment. At first I found this terribly sad, but soon I began to see the opportunity to help. I knew I was meant to do this, and to help those who needed it most. Even if it meant that I’d be fighting right along with them.
Stomping the Monster,
* Since writing this story in February of 2011, Seth has gone through more chemotherapy that led him to an autogulous stem cell transplant (using his own cells) in May of 2011. He was only in remission for a few months. Seth then went through more types of chemo until a drug called SGN 35 (adcetris) came available, which was also a clinical trial at the time. This drug was able to shrink the cancer enough for him to prepare for an allogenic transplant (using a matching donor’s cells) in April 2012. Seth was extremely fortunate to have his sister Andi’s cells be the perfect match that could save his life. He is now nineteen months post transplant, and doing very well! He’s had some complications along the way, but living each day to the fullest. Seth is living as healthy as he can, taking care of his immune system, and enjoying his life while committing to helping others along the way.
**March 25th 2014 Update from Seth. “2 Year Post transplant Screen CLEAN and for the first time my Transplant Doctor, Dr Shore typed in my records………
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma=REMISSION—> BOOM!!”