Robert Vite, Survivor/Patient
My name is Rob Vite, I am 35 years old and was diagnosed with stage II colon cancer.
I grew up in central Florida, I attended the University of Florida after high school. I started a career in the education field as a high school teacher and coach. In 2007, my mother was diagnosed with an acute multiple sclerosis, shortly after I proposed to my now-wife. The disease forced my mother into a nursing home at the age of 46.
The next four years were a struggle for my family – we celebrated highs during the preparation for our 2008 wedding and birth of our first child (Kennedy) in 2011, and many lows during my mom’s battle with MS. In addition to MS, my mother was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. My mother always wanted a little girl, so when my daughter was born in Jan. 2011, God blessed her with her wish. Later that year, we lost my mother.
In 2013, my wife’s career took us to the Raleigh, N.C. area. I continued to teach and coach in the Raleigh area. After experiencing some abdominal pain that April, I was ultimately diagnosed with Colon Cancer on May 17 of that year. Coincidentally, that would have been my mother’s 53rd birthday. Obviously, this diagnosis was extremely shocking and scary to my wife and I. We had a 3-year-old daughter, Kennedy, and another baby girl on the way, due to arrive in September – making the diagnosis that much more scary for us.
I immediately started meeting with surgeons and scheduled for test upon test. It was determined that very fortunately, the cancer had not spread beyond my colon. It turned out to be a very sizeable tumor, it was very isolated, and the cancer cells did not spread to any of the 70+ lymph nodes that have been tested or my appendix that was removed. Confirmed by genetic tests a few weeks later, I suffer from Lynch Syndrome, which is most likely why I was impacted by this particular cancer at the age of 32. In a meeting with my team of doctors, chemotherapy would not be administered because of stage of the cancer and the Lynch diagnosis.
In August 2015, we moved to Milwaukee, WI for my wife’s job, where I am teaching and coaching again.
We still have a long road ahead of us filled with doctor’s appointments and a lot of continuous testing, but the worst is behind us, and my family and I are extremely optimistic. My focus during this process wasn’t how I would beat it, because I knew that I would – My focus has always been the impact on my family.
My whole life, as an athlete, I have trained and prepared my body for “battle.” I have always been physically tough. However, there is no workout in the world to prepare someone for the emotional endurance needed to fight and overcome cancer. I learned that mental toughness is as important, if not more important that physical toughness. Neither come easy, both require tenacity, and both have helped me beat cancer.