The Journey to A New Breath of Life

The power of prayer and a positive mindset became crucial pillars for Maurice, a devoted grandfather, and father of two daughters, as he navigated through his cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Guided by the mantra, "I'm in it to win it," Maurice's journey began in October 2023 during a routine cardiologist appointment for his cardiomyopathy—a condition impacting the heart muscle's ability to pump blood effectively. Despite his next heart scan being scheduled 14 months later, his cardiologist recommended an early scan, setting the stage for the unforeseen challenges that lay ahead.

"The following morning, I visited his office, and he began by saying, 'I have both good and bad news for you.' Naturally, I asked to hear the good news first," Maurice recalls. The positive revelation was that Maurice's heart was in excellent condition. However, the unsettling news followed – there were suspicious spots on his lungs indicative of cancer. Maurice, who had been symptom-free aside from an unusual chest sensation in the days leading up to the heart scan, also occasionally experienced shortness of breath, attributing it to his Cardiomyopathy.

He made an appointment with his doctor, Dr. Vivekanandarajah (Dr. Vivek), at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, whom he saw for his cardiomyopathy. After meeting with Dr. Vivek to discuss the spots on his lungs, Maurice immediately felt relieved. “From that point on, all of my steps were taken for me,” he says. His next step was to get a biopsy, which determined that he had stage IIIB lung cancer. Dr. Vivek directed him to see Dr. Safdieh at NYCBS, who recommended he get another scan. Once the results were received, Dr. Safdieh, along with his team of doctors at NYCBS, created a comprehensive treatment plan for Maurice. The treatment plan consisted of concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Maurice underwent daily radiation sessions, Monday through Friday, for about one month, with each session lasting about 15 minutes. Additionally, he was advised to undergo four cycles of chemotherapy at three-week intervals.

Maurice found himself in a state of shock after receiving his diagnosis. “I was blindsided. I felt 1,000 emotions. I was mad, scared, angry, and didn’t know what to feel. Everything hit me at once. It was devastating news,” Maurice reflected. He thought, “What do I do now? What's going to happen to me?” Maurice, a strong believer in the power of prayer, turned to his faith, seeking solace and clarity. "I prayed for God to take away my anxieties so that I could see clearly and plan a course of action. “After I prayed, I felt a sense of calm and could navigate with a clearer focus,” he said. 

After receiving a treatment plan, course of action, and support from the NYCBS team, he reflects, “I started feeling hopeful.” 

To alleviate the challenges of commuting from Staten Island to Brooklyn for his radiation treatments, NYCBS arranged a car service for Maurice. He acknowledges the significant relief this provided, stating, "That took a lot of the load off. I was in no condition to drive."

Surrounded by a large support system of family and friends, Maurice also found encouragement and support from other patients at NYCBS. “I believe in prayer, that's the first thing you need to do. Whatever you believe in, whoever you believe in, you need to pray,” says Maurice. He also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a positive mindset, avoiding negativity, and adhering to your treatment plan and healthcare needs. “It’s not going to be forever,” he says. “There are different stages that you go through after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Through the stages, you need to stay ‘prayed up’ and positive,” he says. “When the prayers go up, the blessings come down.”

Maurice loves the team at NYCBS, including his doctors, Dr. Vivek and Dr. Safdieh. “Everybody was so nice, warm, and comforting. The facility in Brooklyn is brand new and modern. The doctors were very friendly and helpful. It was a pleasant experience. I’m so grateful that I was able to be guided by these doctors. I always say that God guided my steps in all of this. All of the doctors I encountered were very comforting to me. Dr. Vivek set everything up for me and was very helpful. She treated me as if she knew I would get through this,” he says. 

After completing radiation therapy and chemotherapy treatment, Maurice reflects, “It’s the best feeling in the world. He sees it as an accomplishment and a mountain he needed to climb. “You just have a whole different outlook on life. Everything becomes more precious to you. You’re more appreciative.”

Maurice plans to move forward and continue living his life. A passionate musician who plays the trumpet and trombone, he hopes to resume playing one day. “You can’t beat those horns. We call them the breath of life. They’re completely different from any other instrument because you breathe life into the sound of music, real life from your body,” he emphasizes. He took a break from playing during his lung cancer treatment to allow his lungs to rest. As Maurice approaches his upcoming birthday, he plans to celebrate by traveling with his daughters to New Orleans. “Each day gets better and better,” he says.

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