Every Day I Fight

By Stuart Scott (with Larry Platt)

Former ESPN journalist Stuart Scott passed away just two months ago after a seven year battle with appendix cancer.  His biography “Every Day I Fight” is available this week and provides some insight into Scott’s life, his passion for his career in sports journalism, his relationships (especially his love for daughters Taelor and Sydni), and his cancer fight.

For fellow appendix cancer patients, Scott’s story sounds familiar on so many levels.  He endured multiple surgeries and lengthy chemo regimens of FOLFOX and FOLFIRI.  He mentions using a wound vac and his anxiety about “bathroom issues.”  He even makes the easy 5-FU joke work surprisingly well.  For a “guy’s guy,” he also provides a revealing look at his fears, his vulnerability and a self-deprecation that brings a realism to the strength with which he fought the disease and all the side effects and complications that go with it.  His support network of friends and family comes across as a bit of a revelation to him.  I left the book feeling both a kinship with and great respect for Scott. He has written a heartwarming, yet heartbreaking memoir.

As a student of appendix cancer and the treatments available for it, I cannot help but feel frustration that a man who was diagnosed with appendix cancer in Pittsburgh—where the UPMC Cancer Center is one of the top centers in the world for the treatment of appendix cancer—was not afforded the opportunity to undergo treatment with cytoreductive surgery plus hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), the standard of care for this disease.  Scott’s medical team did not include any of the specialists who perform that procedure.  The reality is that the treatments and outcomes for appendix cancer patients have come a long way, but Stuart’s story reminds us in a very public way that there is still a lot of work to do.

We in the appendix cancer community know all too well that there is no guarantee of survival even if an appendix cancer patient is treated by an appendix cancer specialist and has the opportunity to undergo cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC.  However, our continued hope is that all appendix cancer patients will make their way to an appendix cancer specialist and at least be afforded the opportunity to consider CRS/HIPEC as an option for treatment.  And beyond that, our hope is that continued scientific and medical research will reveal more about appendiceal tumors and provide a pathway to better treatments and better outcomes for patients.

Jerry Lewandowski

The ACPMP Research Foundation