CANCER WARRIOR OF THE MONTH
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. “ – Winston Churchill
As this month closes the books on the year behind us, we look forward in gratitude for the gifts bestowed, for the hardships that we have grown from, for the love that we will always remember, and for the lessons learned from our experiences that will change us forever. To be loved by many and to leave your impression on everyone who ever met you defines “a life well lived” and encapsulates our December-Cancer Warrior of the Month: Nathan Drew Allen.
Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Nathan lived most of his life in Lebanon, Oregon, graduating from Lebanon High in 1989 and from Oregon State University in 1993. An electrician by trade, he was nicknamed: “Ricochet” because of incredible energy.
In the summer of 2015, Nathan’s life took a very different change. While visiting family in Florida with his wife and children, Nathan began to notice stomach pain below his rib cage. Two weeks later, the pain sent him to the hospital emergency room, and through a CT scan previously ordered by his physician looking for gall-bladder issues, Nathan was handed the news of a stage-4 colon cancer diagnosis with metastatic disease in the liver and “too many tumors to count”. In July-2015, at the age of 43 with a KRAS mutation- MSS, Nathan called his wife, Michelle, to tell her that he “just began the fight of his life”.
Nathan immediately took charge of his diagnosis by joining colon cancer discussion groups where he found invaluable information that ranged from likely courses of treatment options, to procedures and outcomes. Within two-weeks, Nathan met with his oncologist for the very first time: “extremely sick, full of despair from the knowledge he had acquired, and scared to death.” Fortunately, his oncologist immediately filled him with love and hope. A breast cancer survivor herself, with recurring MS and a background as an immuno-oncologist, she calmed Nathan down and filled him with “Hope”. –And … Once “Hope” started for Nathan Drew Allen, it never stopped.
Nathan joined countless on-line support groups through Facebook – he found great friends like himself who were young, positive, and happy. He learned about the benefits of exercise, how it can possibly slow recurrence and he felt that he needed to “get up and move” and that “maybe this was his ticket”. Nathan began his new favorite hobby: Walking.
While chemotherapy treatments began, first with Folfoxiri (folinic acid, 5-fluorouracil, oxaliplatin and irinotecan) then to Folfox and 5FU, Nathan was placed on “maintenance treatment” by his fifth infusion. His CEA (Carcinoembryonic Antigen) tumor marker had dropped from the 230’s all the way down to 3.5.
All of this fervor drove Nathan to participate in 5K competitions where he won his very first two competitive walks. He named himself “Cancer Killer” and he began his advocacy work. Nathan joined the Call-On-Congress in 2016 specifically to promote support for the smaller community infusion centers, which are rapidly disappearing throughout the country.
Although Nathan enjoyed two clear PET Scans, his CEA began to rise that led him to restart chemotherapy treatment while being on the lookout for promising clinical trials and the hope of surgery as an option. As his bilirubin numbers increased, blockages were present, and pain continued to be a factor, nothing dampened Nathan’s spirits. In reference to supporting necessary research that The WunderGlo Foundation funds, Nathan said: “What you are doing is needed, and I thank you for it. I still have Hope, always Hope. Just keep on doing what you’re doing.”
A friend to everyone, Nathan inspired the masses, far & wide, in the colorectal cancer world and beyond, with his spirit and humor.
“I hope to grow my advocacy work if the Lord decides that’s what is best for me. I am a man of God and He looks over me always. I retired at the age of 44, electrical work no longer a viable option for me due to chemo side effects with my hands so cracked, I can’t even bend them. But that’s okay, too, as I am happier in many ways than I have ever been, and I will keep doing my best to be in The City on The Hill.” – Nathan Drew Allen.
Last month, on November 28, 2016, Nathan Drew Allen passed away. Loved by so many, he leaves behind his mom, Sandy Wilson and her partner Tom Jette; his father Mike Allen, beloved wife, Michelle, and cherished children Jacob (20), Jaeden (19), Ruth (9), Shelby (23), Cassidy (22), Ashley (18), Jack (15), Tyler (25), and Sid (18), and adored granddaughters Lillian (2) and Cypress (1).
“Let us give something to each person we meet: joy, courage, hope, assurance, or …philosophy, wisdom, a vision for the future.
Let us always give something.” – Daisaku Ikeda
Be moved by the beautiful life of Nathan Drew Allen. Together with The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation, we honor his life and continue to educate, bring hope, and support to patients and their families, while always striving to fund “the cure” that ends this disease.
Cancer, Your Time Is Up!