'My cancer diagnosis: What I wish I'd known' – Randy Swaydan

October 7, 2013 | by Dominique Grignetti

Randy Swaydan is not one to flinch in the face of a daunting diagnosis.

His – esophageal cancer. A grim outlook was painted for his future, until he came to City of Hope.

Meeting immediately with Dr. Benjamin Paz and Dr. Steven Shibata, the doctors presented an intricate treatment plan. Swaydan will never forget hearing Dr. Paz’s words on what mattered most; they were 100% confident that their treatment plan would give him a good quality of life.

In 2003, Swaydan underwent successful surgery to remove his esophagus and stomach, and rebuild them, followed by a 3-week recovery in the ICU. He was also treated with chemotherapy and radiation.

In the end Dr. Paz and Dr. Shibata were right. Randy returned to his active lifestyle and continues to enjoy his hobbies: golf, fishing and coaching baseball.

He recognizes the incredible support team he had, led by his wife who was his greatest source of strength, and his sons who in turn became the rock for the mother. Not only did his caregivers monitor every heart beat and breath, they worked around the clock to make him as comfortable as possible. “They dug deep to find the positive,” Randy says and “celebrate small, daily accomplishments.”  All which added up to a miraculous recovery.

Swaydan’s cancer has resurfaced a few times, but gets knocked out with small surgeries. The way he describes the journey, “when I’m down for the count, I’m down. When I have the green light, I go.” Cancer has been a set-back, but not a game-changer. He still lives the good life he was used to before cancer.

This past weekend was a special one for Randy and his family. The Dodgers recognized Swaydan at Saturday’s game as the "Veteran of the Game” for his years of service in the Air Force. It was all part of Thinkcure! Weekend, which raises funds and awareness for City of Hope and cancer research.

After being a patient at City of Hope for more than 10 years now, Randy wants to relay what he has learned through his journey with cancer. He knows there are many others just beginning their journey and more that will come after. He offers these pieces of wisdom.

  1. Trust the experts. You are not on this journey alone. Trust the wisdom and expertise of those at City of Hope. I promise you there is no greater staff more passionate about your care and healing. You are in the best place possible.
  2. Look ahead. View cancer as just a bump in the road. Your future will level out and just over the horizon your health and your life will be back in sync.
  3. Circle of Strength. Do your best to stay positive. Your attitude is contagious. Your strength will become the strength for those around you and vice versa – a circle of strength is powerful.
  4. Reflect on life. Reflect on the best memories of your life and know there will be many more to experience.
  5. Pay it forward.  Always remember to “pay it forward.” We learn by the experiences of others and if you can help alleviate the fear of anyone facing a challenge – the reward will be yours.



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