We continue to shine a shine a spotlight on individuals who have so much to be thankful for.
In this edition of Week of Thanks, we’re focusing on one Erie man who was in his prime, when he received news that would change his life forever.
You could say Kregg Heenan was facing odds set against him from the day he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Doctors say only about 2% of this cancer are diagnosed.
Taking a look at Kregg Heenan, it’d be hard to suspect 16 months ago he was in the fight of his life. To put this in perspective, let’s go back to August 2018.
“I had pain in my side for a couple of days. We thought appendicitis. So, we went to the ER.” Heenan said.
It was that moment when the then-45 year olds’ life changed.
“I was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer called Neuroendocrine Carcinoma.” Heenan said.
Prior to his diagnosis, he was in his prime. He had a normal health history and a dream marketing job. His life was somewhat picture perfect.
“I never asked for a percentage at the time, what the outlook was. I could tell by his voice and his interaction with me that it wasn’t good.” Heenan said.
Heenan had two surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy.
“His optimism, his strength as a human being, amazing family support, all of that optimism in my opinion is half of what carried him through.” said Dr. David Seastone, Oncologist.
His two teenage boys, Niko and Geno, helped to raise the spirit of their father.
“I knew deep inside they knew the severity of it. They were troopers through the entire process.” Heenan said.
As he captained the family, there was someone along his side. His anchor and wife, Katie.
“The first week in the hospital she said to me ‘We don’t have time for cancer. We’re too busy for this.'” Heenan said. Her words having a major impact on his fight. This tattoo of a pocket watch without hands, a symbolic message of their journey.
“She smiled, laughed, was with me every day, every step of the way. I never saw her break down.” Heenan said.
Through his experience, the 47-year old taking one message away…live life to its fullest, letting insignificant dilemmas go, and focusing on the here and now.
“Not every patient is going to respond, but when I see a patient like Kregg, it keeps me personally coming back to work as a doctor.” Dr. Seastone said.
Dr. Seastone adding that Kregg is from an average patient. Both attributing the work UPMC provide as another reason for his success.