His daughter's cancer journey taught him how to face his own
January 2, 2019
| by Maxine Nunes
When Scott Bower (right) was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, his daughter Samantha, also a cancer survivor, shaved her head in solidarity.
When Scott Bower was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2013, he took courage from a wonderful role model: his daughter Samantha, and the life-affirming way she had coped with childhood cancer two years earlier.
Samantha, then 12, was a competitive swimmer, and after a meet one day her arm began to hurt. They thought it was just a muscle cramp. It turned out to be osteosarcoma
Bower, an insurance executive, still chokes up talking about his daughter’s amazing attitude during her cancer journey.
“That first night, we had to tell her that when she went in for surgery she might lose her arm. My wife and I were teary, and we were all hugging,” he recalled. And it was Samantha who rescued the moment, coming up with ways she could do things with just one arm.
Samantha did lose the humerus bone in her left arm, and it was replaced with a prosthetic. She spent most of that year in the hospital, undergoing high-dose chemotherapy
. This, too, she handled like a trouper.
“She was 12 years old, being hit with very high-dose chemotherapy, yet in the hospital she’d wake up every morning at 4:30 and, under the watchful eye of the nurse, clean and flush her port herself,” he said.
A Second Engagement
Now a healthy 20-year-old, Samantha is currently on a study-abroad program in Moscow, working toward a degree in linguistics and Russian. She credits her parents' openness with helping her through the ordeal.
“They fostered transparency and honesty, allowing me to feel in control even at my lowest points,” she said. “And they kept me grounded in the idea that progress is made little by little, and that a few bad days can’t take away all the good ones."
So when Bower himself was diagnosed with Hodgkin's, it was not, as he put it, his first cancer rodeo. Unfortunately, it also wasn’t his last. He underwent a course of chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free. Then, in October 2017, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which had metastasized to his humerus, a strange but unrelated echo of his daughter’s disease.
Under the care of oncologist Misagh Karimi, M.D
., at the nearby City of Hope | Corona, he underwent chemotherapy and targeted radiation and is now in remission.
Bower, an energetic man with a high-powered career, continued to work through both his bouts with cancer. It kept his attention off of his cancer, and helped him stay positive.
He sums up his approach to the “cancer rodeos” this way: “One day at a time, one step at a time, one procedure at a time. And before you know it, boom, boom, boom, it’s done.”
The family also has what Samantha calls a good luck tradition.
“He shaved his head when I was sick, and I shaved mine when he had Hodgkin's lymphoma,” she said. “And when he got non-Hodgkin's, I drove home from college so my mom could shave my head and he could start treatment with the ‘Bald Bower Luck.’ He made it through with flying colors both times, so it was worth every strand.”
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