If you’ve been living on this planet for even a few hours, you already know that life has a crazy way of making us focus on what’s really important. For Kevin Abernathy, it was a fight with cancer in his early 30s that really put things in perspective. The motorcycle enthusiast was diagnosed with Carcinoid cancer, a rare form of cancer that affected his left lung. He spent more than a month in the hospital undergoing surgery to remove the tumors, and was in an induced coma for five days before finally starting his road to recovery.
Over the next year, Kevin would have bimonthly follow-ups filled with blood work, urine tests and body scans that took a toll on his body. But as time passed, the follow-up appointments happened less and less, and 10 years after being diagnosed, Kevin was officially cancer-free. *Insert wild applause here*
Doing it For Duey But Kevin wasn’t the only one battling cancer. During his recovery process, he lost two of his six siblings to lung and esophageal cancer, and his sister is currently living with colon cancer. But that hasn’t brought Kevin’s spirits down one bit. When asked how he was able stay positive and keep fighting, the Illinois native didn’t hesitate to say, “My mom and mostly my son. I grew up without my real dad, and I just knew there was no way I was going to leave. I felt that in my body and my mind, I wasn’t ready. I needed to be here for my kid.”
With the new status as a cancer survivor under his belt, Kevin knew he had to give back. He, along with family and friends, began having annual benefits to help promote cancer awareness and raise money for the medical and prescription costs of local patients. He’s raised money for his late brother Duey through his “Cancer Sucks” benefits. The benefits now also provide support for local families affected by esophageal cancer, the Sage Cancer Unit at McHenry Hospital in McHenry, Ill., where Kevin lives, as well as his late brother’s four children.
“I enjoy helping people, and it’s fun for [me],” Kevin said enthusiastically.
This young motorcycling cancer survivor says his experience with cancer has taught him to not only be more conscious of his health, but also reminded him that the saying ‘life is short’ is more than just another overused cliché. He visits the doctor regularly to ensure that he is in good health. He also participates in different motorcycle rides throughout the area in honor of cancer awareness. And when he’s not riding, Kevin cherishes every moment he can with his 25-year-old son, two grandchildren, and girlfriend, Debbie.
“You just try to stay positive, surround yourself with good, positive vibes, good people, and continue to fight. Got to fight,” he said with encouragement. “There’s no time for the little stuff, you know, life’s too short to stress about small things. You just got to enjoy your life as it is.”