CBS 11's Bill McAllister Stands Up to Cancer
All television networks are carrying the Stand Up to Cancer telethon tonight to raise money for research
ANCHORAGE - All television networks are carrying the Stand Up to Cancer telethon tonight, between 7 and 8 p.m. in Alaska, to raise money for research. Here at CBS 11, we asked senior enterprise journalist Bill McAllister to discuss his personal experience with cancer.
McAllister was hospitalized on Oct. 2, 2008, after receiving a call from his doctor about his blood test that day. The call interrupted his viewing of the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, for whom McAllister was then working.
"Well, I'm a cancer survivor, although using that phrase kind of implies it's in the past, and in fact with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, it's incurable; it will return some day. Hopefully, I won't find out that it has when I have my next six-month check-up in October. But I am guaranteed, if I don't die for some other reason, to have to deal with this again in the future.
"Although as cancer patients go, I've had it pretty easy. Very little pain, really, other than having needles stuck in me. And it worked. And I got the disease at a time when the drugs had improved to the point where I didn't throw up, didn't lose my hair; had times of extreme fatigue, but really that's not so bad. I continued playing tennis all through my chemotherapy in the winter of 2008-2009. I still do. I'm still active. I still play tennis; I'm involved in theater. And pain free. So I'm actually rather lucky.
"But it is a sort of a sword of Damocles hanging over my head, knowing that someday I will have to deal with this again. But maybe by then, the advance in the drugs will be such that we can actually cure this. So if you can donate to Stand Up Against Cancer, if your circumstances allow you to do that, I think it's a good investment.
"Well, when I found out definitely that it was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma from my oncologist, my then-wife was with me. And I remember feeling actually rather serene about it. I said to him, 'Is this going to kill me?' And he said no, and then he said, well, maybe. So it wasn't a death sentence. I knew that the treatment was likely to knock it down, as he puts it. It's not remission; there's still something weird going on in my blood. But it's not to point where I need treatment right now.
“But no, at the time, I felt very loved. Now, she ended up leaving me a couple of years later. So that was actually worse than the cancer. But at that time, no, I felt loved and felt there was concern for me. In fact, Governor Palin called me at home a week before the election in 2008. She was somewhere on the East Coast; it had to be midnight there, because it was 8 o'clock in Alaska. And the only purpose of her phone call was to say, how are you doing, you know, we love you. You know, this is a week before the biggest night of her life.
"Hopefully everyone's heard this -- early detection. Big. Very important. If your doctor is recommending that you, you're of a certain age or of a certain susceptibility to a certain kind of cancer or other disease, you know, check it out. Don't wait to find out later.”
To contribute to Standing Up to Cancer, visit https://www.standup2cancer.org/.