Bill C. Potts, author of the book “Up for the Fight,” lends his experiences and knowledge about cancer to his readers as a five-time cancer survivor.
“In September of 2020, I woke up from surgery to remove a really painful tumor in below my right hip,” Potts told CURE® during an exclusive interview. “And I had an emotional breakdown, when I was waking up from the surgery in the recovery room, and they called in the pastor and we talked through a lot of things, including the reasons why I should continue to fight the battle. And at the end of that conversation, the pastor told me that I should turn my pain into purpose and write a book to help others.”
In 2002, at 42 years old, Potts received a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Since then, he has experienced four cases of lymphoma and, most recently, received a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Potts knew he needed to share his story with others, so during chemotherapy treatments, he picked up his laptop and began writing. He grasped the opportunity to urge fellow patients to advocate for themselves, as he learned to do.
Potts, at 63 years old, recently celebrated two years in remission and chooses to live in the moment, spending each day doing what he wants to do.
In this episode of the “Cancer Horizons” podcast, Potts speaks with CURE about his cancer journey and his book “Up for the Fight.”
“I’d kept my cancer (a) secret until the book came out. And now that the book is out, it’s challenging at times, because it’s hard to talk about,” he said. “Sometimes it can be triggering to talk about it, but mostly what I find is that it’s rewarding, and the impact that it’s having on other cancer patients. So, I would say that it’s a responsibility.”
Since sharing his story through writing his book, others with similar experiences have also picked it up, which Potts said was encouraging. It further motivated him to promote his book as a guide for patients and their families. Potts told CURE that he especially wanted to promote the book to patients experiencing cancer right after being diagnosis, “so that it can make a difference in their journey.”
Potts explained that he didn’t have guides to turn to when he was first diagnosed, and emphasized how this book was one he wished someone else had written for him. Or, as he describes it, “there really wasn’t that how-to guide out there, like ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting,’ but for cancer.”
Now, the book has become Potts’ purpose.
Potts admitted that he didn’t “own his journey” when he was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer. “I let the doctors tell me what to do, and that that decision still may cost me my life,” he said. “So, the first thing is that you have to create the mindset, that this is me, it’s my job. And the key part is the job part, to get better and to own the journey, that it’s a little bit counterintuitive to a lot of people that you own your journey, not the healthcare team. But the healthcare team appreciates a patient that owns their journey.”
In “Up for the Fight,” Potts stresses to his readers that owning their journeys and advocating for themselves is necessary. He told CURE some tips that worked for him: research potential cancer treatment centers, get a second opinion, take notes during appointments, build relationships with care teams, communicate with doctors and care teams, research the drugs and treatments that will be used and ensure proper mental and emotional support.
“I do that through groups on Facebook, which is super helpful, but professional help, like therapists, things like that is also a great way to own your journey,” Potts said during the interview. “And I really have been lucky to get to know a lot of people through the book (who) are owning their journey and that also inspires me (and) gives me hope.”
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