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A Routine Screening That Helped Save My Life

Posted on June 16, 2017, 12:00 PM

Kevin Adams’ journey with cancer began when he made the decision to have Bariatric Surgery for weight loss. To prepare for the operation Kevin underwent several routine, pre-surgical medical tests to ensure he was healthy enough to undergo the surgical procedure. At 64, he was relatively healthy, aside from the extra weight and some minor back pain he attributed to his size. Cancer was the furthest thing from his mind.

American Airlines Team Members

American Airlines team members from Tulsa. Left to Right: Naomi Ponder, colon cancer survivor; Sarah Clay, co-survivor; Kimberly Gibbs fighting ovarian cancer, Kevin Adams, liver cancer survivor.

When a CT scan revealed a massive growth on his right kidney that would have to be removed, he could barely believe it. It was not the surgery he was expecting to have. His doctor assured him that the mass was most likely benign, but there was still a chance it could be cancer. “My doctor sent me home to prepare my body for surgery and rest, so for 30 days I researched kidney cancer online,” Kevin remembers. Through his research, he learned that as an overweight man in his mid-sixties he was in fact at risk for the disease often referred to as a “silent killer” because it rarely displays specific symptoms.

On the day of surgery, Kevin vividly remembers the surgery room and how cold it was. His doctor would use a robotic technology to perform a partial bephrectomy to remove a mass that was roughly the size of a softball. A mass that his doctor would later tell him was discovered to be malignant.

After surgery, a CT scan confirmed that all signs of the mass were gone. “I just thank God for Dr. Doyle and my medical team that discovered and removed the mass to save me from something much worse,” Kevin says. “I am proud to be one of the more than 200,000 kidney cancer survivors living in the U.S. right now.”

Recovery from surgery was harder than Kevin had anticipated. It took over two months before he was able to return to work as an aviation maintenance technician, better known as an airplane mechanic with American Airlines, a company he has been with for more than 21 years. Thankfully, Kevin had his family right by his side every step of the way. “My family was an amazing support system,” Kevin says. “They tracked everything down to the ounces of water I drank and knew what I needed for a successful recovery.” His church was a significant source of support as well. “I can’t prove it, but I believe those prayers from my friends and family made a difference, someone heard them.”

Today, Kevin continues to share his story in the hopes of motivating others to take better care of their health and support cancer research. He wants people not just to be aware of cancer, but to be proactive about finding ways to end it. “I stand up to cancer for myself and my family,” Kevin says. “I have children and continuing to support research for them, and our future generations, is imperative.”

American Airlines’ support of the kind of cancer research that’s focused on turning more patients into survivors is something Kevin hopes will only continue to grow. “American has so many team members that have been affected by this disease in one way or another,” he says. “I would love to see our company continue to give and support Stand Up To Cancer because it is going to be collaboration among scientists that will give us answers we need to treat and end this disease.”

Kevin is also acutely aware that cancer does not discriminate. In 2017 alone there will be an estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases in the United States. Research that helps these patients survive is crucial. More than 1,600 people in the United States still die from this disease every single day. “If my sharing my story touches one person, one family, or encourages someone to wake up and talk to their doctor about health screenings, that makes it worth it,” Kevin says. “It’s up to all of us to take action, take care of our health, and invest in research that’s going to save more lives.”

Learn how you can earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles in the Miles To Stand Up program when you donate to Stand Up To Cancer here.


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