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Robert M.12

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Review for River Discovery Inc, Boise, ID, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Thank you for inviting my sister Calley Masson Sunderman to your river discovery!

Meet my sister Calley. As most of you know I celebrated her cancer survival on Mt. Kilimanjaro with a great group of friends and cancer warriors in 2014( Survivor Summit 2014).

26 years ago this week, after competing in a PAC 10 Track event in the 1500 m a few days before, she was admitted to a local Phoenix hospital with a ‘kidney infection’.

I was coincidentally traveling from Gainesville, FL, walking through the Dallas airport en route to Seattle for my first neurosurgery job interview. Remember those ‘white courtesy phones’. Who actually used them and how did they know to call you?

Walking through the airport, Sony Walkman on and my wife tugging at my shirt, “Robert, they are asking you to pick up the ‘white courtesy phone”.

An hour later I was on a different flight to Phoenix. My dad had called me on that mysterious phone.(remember cell phones weren’t a thing yet)

Of course he was worried, but nothing made sense. The words infections and mass in a world class trackster in peak shape at 21, knowing her mom had died of cancer at 30. The universe spoke to me and thank God I was listening.

I checked her out of her hospital, against medical advice ( yeah right), when I arrived at 1 am, after seeing her scan and understanding that she had a 7:30 am needle biopsy of her ‘infection’. The ugliest looking cancer I had seen to date.

I brought her ‘home’ to Shands Hospital in Gainesville where I was Chief Resident of neurosurgery. I assembled the dream team of 7 pound kidney sarcoma tumor surgery including the Urology wizard, Chairman Zev Wajsman, the heart transplant surgery director to rebuild the vena cava after the radical resection and the liver team because of the partial liver resection where it was attached.

After a brilliant surgery recovery, we fired three medical oncologists who liked to quote failure data, understanding that 5% 5 year survival quotes weren’t preparing us to be the exception, the top 1%er, the only distinction that we considered a reasonable goal.

This week, one year after winning a second battle with a Cancer of her nasal sinuses (with special thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Larson), we celebrate her 26 year anniversary from that horrible evil cancer as she celebrates her family and the 3 year old boy, ‘she wasn’t supposed to be able to have’.

Can you imagine if
1. I didn’t get the white courtesy phone call in the Dallas airport from our dad
2. I didn’t answer the call
3. I didn’t somehow reroute my entire trip to Seattle on the spot
4. Denise didn’t interrupt my Walkman
jam and tell me she heard my name on the overhead

Listen to your little voices, step out of your path if the universe speaks to you, and never, ever make a life saving or changing plan based on failure statistics.

We always, always aim to be the top percentage of outcome, in every adversity we find our selves in.

Thank you for inspiring me always Calley Masson Sunderman! I love you!

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field