What I know

the band
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
Late last November, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIb colon cancer. I had open abdominal surgery in early December, and began a 12-dose regimen of FOLFOX chemotherapy not long after that.

In less than two weeks, I’ll get my final dose, and then will begin a couple years of semi-annual screening. Things look good, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming Outdoor Retailer show more than I have in a decade.

Occasionally throughout the last six months, I’ve been asked how this experience has changed me – and to be honest, I don’t really know the full extent of it yet.

I do know that without the help from my family and community, and without the kindness and flexibility of my clients – Kelty, Horny Toad, Smith, Northern Outdoors – this would have been a much more challenging ordeal. As if you needed a better excuse to buy one of their products, all of these companies have been extraordinarily kind.

I also know that the kind words that have come in from various places in the outdoor industry have been both surprising and incredibly welcome. Sales reps, other PR firms, former co-workers, writers and editors, people who’s job descriptions I don’t even know – their emails, cards, and phone conversations have been the sips of water I’ve needed to reach my goal. It’s hard to express my full gratitude for those small gestures in words.

And I absolutely know that the battle against cancer is one that we all share. After spending a couple hundred hours in the chemo ward, that fact is all too clear. This is not a disease that affects just old people, just smokers, just obese people. It hits everybody, in some way, eventually. Just because we’re generally fit, firm, and silly enough to drink Red Bull and vodka on a regular basis doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be paying attention.

What can we do? Know your family history, get screened appropriately, talk to your doctor, and live strong.

If you have early symptoms, even minor ones – check them out immediately. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this note right now.

Thank you again to every single person that’s reached out to me in the last six months. I sincerely appreciate every single note and call and pat on the back, and look forward to seeing you all again, very soon.

- Drew Simmons

American Cancer Association
Lance Armstrong Foundation
Smith Optics
Horny Toad apparel
Northern Outdoors adventure resort

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