I am Michael Proctor of Fayetteville, NC. I am a former Army Medic that was diagnosed with EHE while serving on active duty in Afghanistan. I have an 8 year old daughter, who is the light of my life. I also enjoy fishing.In early 2010, I was deployed to Afghanistan with Chosen Company of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry of the 173rd Airborne Brigade and noticed a mass in my right thigh had grown rapidly over the previous month. I was sent to Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar for evaluation. Doctors completed a wedge resection and I was initially told the pathology showed no cancer, so I was expecting to return to my unit in Afghanistan after finishing physical therapy. About 2 weeks later they called me in and told me upon further testing that I was positive for EHE. I didn’t know what to think. I was mostly scared about my future, but I also felt like I was leaving my brothers behind because I was sent back to Italy for the remainder of the deployment. After a few months I had a PET scan in Germany and it was positive for cancer in my liver. I nearly fainted because at that point I thought my life was over.
My EHE journey has been a whirlwind. I’ve lived with EHE for nearly 10 years and I’ve experienced every possible emotion along the way. I feel incredibly lucky to have survived this long and also have been able to live a pretty normal life. Since 2010, I’ve had a right thigh resection, 4 liver surgeries (3 resection and 1 lobectomy) and, most recently, a right lung lobectomy in March 2019. The most challenging aspect of EHE is that it can always come back even if doctors think it’s gone for good. There’s always a chance it will grow somewhere else because on a molecular level it is always there.
My advice for newly diagnosed patients is, “Do not accept that EHE is the end. Every case is unique. Life never goes as we plan it but even a cancer diagnosis can put you on a path to wonderful things. Try and stay as positive as possible and don’t let EHE dictate how you live your life. Try and make the best of your situation every single day. You never know where it may lead you.”
The EHE Foundation is important to me because they have SO MUCH information. For years, I basically knew only what my doctors told me, which wasn’t much at all. The information and knowledge I get from The EHE Foundation family empowers me to make better informed decisions about my healthcare especially when facing tough decisions. There are plenty of groups and diseases you could donate your time or money to so why EHE? Because they are doing the right thing. People struggling with EHE can email or call with questions and volunteers are always there to offer advice or encouragement. They raise money for EHE specific research and are highly involved in the medical community to help find a cure. It is obvious just reading patients’ posts in the support group to see what an impact this foundation and community has on our lives.