When Nichole (The president of Shades of Pink) told me about Eric I knew he had to be one of the male breast cancer survivor models. After playing phone and email tag I had the great joy of sitting down with him at cafe intermezzo on Dunwoody. I sat down with Eric and I asked him to tell me a little about his story. In short, It was go time! I sat there listening to his story and was amazed at not only at the words that he was saying but what he was communicating. Every story was backed by passion and character. Just to give you a little taste if you ever get a chance to meet him ask him about the time he took his children to the zoo (when he shouldn’t have gone because of the chemo and radiation) because he promised that he would. The fact of the matter is that Eric is a man, father, husband and son who knows the meaning of legacy and character. There have been more that one stories relayed to my friends that they too found inspiring and moving. I would do him and you (the reader) an injustice if I were to tell his story for him so here’s his story from www.dunlapspeaks.com
One day, after working in the yard, Eric noticed a spot of blood on his shirt. He immediately dismissed the occurrence, thinking he’d likely scratched or cut himself inadvertently — though he could not locate the actual scratch or cut.
The next day (on a different shirt) another spot of blood appeared. Again, Eric could not locate an actual scratch or cut. Baffled — but somewhat more concerned — Eric sought medical advice. Initially, the doctor determined the blood was caused by “some form of trauma” to the chest region and concluded the bleeding would stop. The bleeding did stop.
The following year however, during a work out, Eric experienced a chest pain so excruciating it caused him to drop to his knees. On self-examination, Eric found no scratch or cut this time. Rather, he found a lump in his chest. Doctors’ examinations ultimately deduced that Eric had cancer. Undoubtedly, the question of mortality began to race through Eric’s mind. How much time does he have? Would he see his children’s next birthdays? Would he celebrate another wedding anniversary?
A second Doctor’s opinion would confirm the cancer. And, Eric would be informed that he would need to have a radical mastectomy and chemotherapy. After the mastectomy and simultaneous reconstructive surgery, Eric would endure 6 months of chemotherapy — not to mention the nausea and fatigue chemotherapy brought on.
Needless to say, cancer was heavily impacting Eric’s way of life. Later though, he would come to believe that cancer may have saved his life. Mental and physical challenges of the therapy did ensue. Moreover, with two children (ages 13 months and 3 years old at the time), a mortgage, car payments and limited ability to work, financial difficulty and stresses were eminent. Eric’s spouse would have to support the family financially and care for him as well. Moreover, throughout his time of healing, Eric increasingly felt that he was losing valuable time.
Actually, his time with family and friends was becoming more precious than ever. Spirituality, mortality and good health became more necessary than ever. Hence the transformation. Not only did Eric eradicate the cancer in his body. He used the experience as a catalyst for improving the overall quality of his life on several seldom-discussed fronts: Accepting Medical Disorder; Re-Assessing Priorities; Remaining Focused; Establishing & Utilizing Support Groups; Staying Motivated; Maintaining a Proper Diet; Exercise & Relaxation; Adhering to Medical Advice; Accepting Empathy Not Sympathy; Managing Occupational Changes & Hazards; Leading Your Best Life; and Pursuing Your Passion. Eric is not only a cancer survivor. He’s a cancer survivor on a mission.
“Cancer has been a detour, but not the end of the road, Eric says, “I feel as though I have been given a second chance to enjoy my life and to make my life better– spiritually, physically, and mentally.” A big part of Eric’s enjoyment is to help other cancer patients recover — be it through speaking to any of the key topics above or providing general inspiration/motivation. Eric, an active member of the American Cancer Society speaker’s bureau, shares his story with countless audiences (radio, television, corporations, support groups, and the like).
“My goal is to educate, encourage, and empower people to continue healing from the inside out,” Eric says, well aware that curable cancers just like his are often ignored, never reported or under-reported. “Hopefully in some small, but significant way I can change the results, raise the awareness, and save lives.”