Bryan Harper, 48, of Florence, keeps a quote by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on the wall by his desk at Midway Motors in Hillsboro.
“We do not have to become heroes overnight,” Roosevelt said. “Just a step at a time, meeting each thing as it comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”
Harper said that is his approach to cancer.
In mid-February he said he was feeling fine, but one day there was blood in his urine. He thought that perhaps he had passed a kidney stone, but thought it was odd that he hadn’t had any pain. After he drank a glass of water, the problem cleared up.
His urine was bloody again the next day. When he passed a blood clot, he decided it was time to see a doctor. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with him, but scheduled an appointment with a kidney specialist three days later.
The next day Harper’s stomach started hurting, and he went to the emergency room when it became too severe. That’s when he got the news. A scan showed two softball-sized masses on his left kidney.
“I couldn’t believe I had kidney cancer,” he said. “I never hurt a day before.”
Doctors removed the affected kidney a couple of days later. He felt fine recovering from the surgery.
“I’m just glad it wasn’t in both of them (kidneys),” Harper said. “It’s one of those things, you can live with one.”
However, about a week later a full-body scan showed the cancer had spread to both of his lungs.
“It’s pretty devastating news,” he said.
His doctor told him modern medicine has no cure for the kind of cancer he has. Radiation and chemotherapy can slow the progression of the cancer, but can’t stop it. Harper said he was grateful the doctor was straightforward with him. Since the news, he has continued to work at the car dealership.
“I’m not going to do chemo and radiation,” Harper said. “It won’t cure it.”
He said he had seen his father wither away while undergoing treatment for incurable cancer, and he didn’t want to follow that path.
“It’d be pretty easy to curl up in a corner, but that’s not me,” Harper said.
Instead, he is following a regimen of spiritual healing and herbal remedies. The healer he is working with has had success with other cancer patients, using diet and herbs intended to strengthen the immune system in conjunction with prayer. The diet he is on precludes pork, wheat and flour products, soda, and refined sugars.
“Cancer survives 100 percent on sugar,” he said.
Meanwhile Harper has been eating more fruits and vegetables. He said sticking to the diet is tough but possible.
“You can do it,” he said. “It’s doable, but I have to bring lunch.”
Harper trusts that with faith and determination, he can defeat the cancer.
“The Lord has given me a temple,” he said, referring to his body.
Harper said that there isn’t anything he could have done differently, except possibly getting expensive full-body scans on a regular basis. He doesn’t smoke, tries to eat healthy, is active, and has had regular physicals.
He said he plans to face the problem head-on.
“I’ve always believed you look fear in the eye,” Harper said. “Fear can be conquered.
“I know a lot of people think I have a death sentence,” he said. “It’s not a death sentence; it’s a reality check.”
Nobody lives forever, he said. He would prefer to live to see old age rather than succumb to cancer now, and he is doing what he can to fight it. But he isn’t afraid of death.
“I have no regrets so far in life,” Harper said. “It’s been good.”