My Knight Cancer Story: Anthony Esposito

Tony Esposito - My Knight Cancer StoryAt age 61, Anthony was diagnosed in April of 2010 with liver cancer. He credits early detection and excellent care with his ability to share his story. Anthony believes a good, positive attitude is some of the best medicine anyone can have. Anthony is back to his job as a property maintenance technician. He and his family live in Grants Pass, OR.

I was doing yard work when sudden stomach cramps made it impossible for me to bend over. I thought I’d just overdone it a bit, and went it to take a nap. When I woke up, the pain was worse. I drove with my daughter to the emergency room. The pain was so bad, I couldn’t complete the intake paperwork in the waiting room.

Emergency surgery revealed my spleen had ruptured. In removing it, the surgeon noticed a lump on my liver and took a biopsy. I learned over the phone from my doctor that I had liver cancer. He recommended I go to Portland for treatment at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

Kevin Billingsley, M.D.,  and Jonathan Schwartz, M.D., were extremely patient and helpful in explaining all of my options for surgery and follow-up treatment. They told me that the tumor board, where all Knight Cancer Institute liver cancer specialists meet and discuss my case as a team and give me a recommendation, was going to meet at the end of the week, and they would let me know what their recommendation was. The fact that I had a team of specialists working on my case gave me such great confidence. The doctors worked together, focused on my specific situation, and worked with me and my family to make sure we understood all of our options. That allowed me to relax and feel comfortable that the decision we made was the best one for me.

The doctors recommended laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation, a surgical procedure which uses heat energy to destroy the liver tumor. I wasn’t worried about it; I knew it had to be done. I had faith in my doctors and concentrated on going in with a positive attitude. Thankfully, everything went well.

The day after my surgery was my daughter’s birthday, and my doctors knew I was anxious to go home. I was walking the halls for exercise, when Dr. Billingsley came up and said he’d begun the paperwork so I could go home. I was so grateful. I went home with strict orders to take things slowly, especially at work. I listened to my doctors and my body, and within a couple of weeks, I was back to full strength.

I’m now in a clinical trial for a drug which will hopefully keep my cancer from coming back. It’s comforting to know that not only do I have access to cutting edge care through clinical trials, but my experience may help someone in the future. It’s a wonderful way to help the doctors who are helping me, as they try to conquer cancer.

Our oldest son has a friend who had cancer when he was 2 years old. Someone gave him a Curious George and told him to take it with him on all of his doctor visits, etc., so he did. He was told it was for good luck. When he found out I had cancer and was going to be going through a lot of doctor visits and hospital stays he got me a Curious George and told me his story. So far Curious George has been to every doctor visit and hospital stay. So far Curious George has been doing the trick.

My entire experience at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute was excellent. Everyone was so helpful with information, and they took the time to explain everything to me and my family. The people at the Knight Cancer Institute make you feel like they love their job, and they want to help you. I am so grateful for all they did for me.

To read another inspiring story from a Knight Cancer Institute liver cancer patient, please visit