Captain Robert Webster was a cancer patient, a survivor, and a tireless cancer support advocate. He passed away in his home September 2, 2015 after a courageous 10-year battle with colon cancer. In 2012, we had the honor of meeting him and capturing his story, shared below and in the video that follows.
Rewind my life back seven years. I walked four miles twice a day. At 6 foot-3 inches and 230 pounds I was in pretty good shape. I participated in many public walking events like the D’Feet Breast Cancer Race for the Cure with my wife and friends. Retired from a career with the Parks Board in Plano, I’d recently moved to Galveston with my wife and young daughter. I worked part-time as a captain at Texas A&M in Galveston while studying there – first for my bachelor’s and then for my master’s degree in Marine Resources Management. I just started working on my PhD. Life was good.
A couple of months before my 50th birthday, I started having to take at least one break per walk at the portable restrooms located along the seawall. My body was trying to tell me something was wrong. As I kept trying to convince myself that this was just part of getting older, I started to worry it might be something more serious.
When I turned 50, I decided, with prompting from my wife who happens to be nursing faculty, to schedule a colonoscopy. The test revealed a problem. My long journey as a cancer survivor began.
It has been nearly seven years since that colonoscopy, and I’ve been fighting back against a very aggressive cancer ever since. If it hadn’t been for all the different health professionals at UTMB who have been fighting alongside me every step of the way, I am sure I would not still be here today.
I have heard so many stories from others I’ve met on this journey who reached a point at other cancer facilities where they were told there was nothing else that could be done to help them. They were basically told to get their affairs in order and give up the fight.
After conversations with me, they learned they did have other options – at UTMB – new tumor ablation techniques for example – that could give them more precious time. People I’ve talked to who thought they were at the end of the road learned that UTMB had options they’d never heard of. And UTMB had people who would fight for them and with them every step of the way. I’ve been blessed to be able to share this information with numerous cancer survivors for whom it has made a tremendous difference.
UTMB has brought me into contact with so many special people – doctors, nurses, and many different staff members who have helped me so much over the course of many years. I’m so grateful to have had every moment of that time to spend with my wife and daughter.
Another thing that has meant the world to me is the opportunity I have had to share my stories with other patients who didn’t know where to turn for support and information before they met me.
In order to help other patients who have colorectal and related cancers, a support group was formed to help people like Robert work together to figure out how to deal with the wide array of challenges that they face. It’s a group for men and women and their spouses and/or caregivers. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with colorectal or GI cancer and are interested in possibly taking part in this new group, call the UTMB Cancer Center at (832) 505-1910 or visit the Cancer Crushers support group.