Cancer survivor Chad Bliss is a committed Gwinnett Relay For Life volunteer and a member of its Executive Leadership Team, a group of volunteers who tirelessly execute the world’s largest Relay each spring. He’s volunteered with Relay since 2013, interrupted by a short time when he and his family lived in Pennsylvania before returning, oh-so-happily, to Gwinnett.
Chad first got involved to give back after his father, a cancer survivor, benefited from American Cancer Society services like the Hope Lodge. But today, if you ask Chad that quintessential question: Why do you Relay?, he’ll pull out his phone and show you a video from over two years ago. The video was sent to him shortly after midnight on the morning of his surgery to remove a tumor from his colon. On that video, message after message, from his Relay family. “We love you. We’re thinking of you. We’re celebrating you. We are waiting for the good news to come.”
It was December 2015 when Chad first started having pain he describes as “the feeling of a rusty nail making its way through my intestines. After two weeks, I figured it wasn’t gas and went to the ER, where I was initially diagnosed with diverticulitis with a recommendation to get a colonoscopy just to be sure.”
That’s when they found the tumor. “After surgery, the doctors found that one lymph node tested positive, putting me in Stage III and in a six-month chemotherapy protocol. I’m now two years into my recovery. I see an oncologist every three months and remain optimistic for a healthy recovery.”
It wasn’t easy, he says. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But it taught me perspective. And priorities. And what’s really important.”
Prevention is a key, he reminds. “Your body will give you clues. Don’t ignore them. If in doubt, check it out.”
To those faced with a cancer diagnosis, Chad’s counsel is simple. “Listen to your body. Hang on tight. Don’t be afraid to go to sleep.”