My name is Arthur Lazarus. I was born in New Hampshire in 1935 and grew up in Waltham, Massachusetts in a stable suburban family. I graduated from University of Maine in 1957 with a BA in Geology. I served in the Army Reserve for six years. I met my wife at U of Maine and we have three adult daughters and four grandchildren. I live in Littleton, Massachusetts. I began my career as an Engineering Geologist in construction materials technology and ended as a Program Manager and Senior Engineering Geologist in hazardous waste site remediation. I was fully employed for the entire 45-year career. My volunteer activities at present are conservation land management, church participation, stained glass crafting, and participation in two Head and Neck Cancer Support Groups. Although I have been quite healthy all my life, the big change came in 2008 with severe oral cancer. Through extensive treatment and therapy activities I have done well for six years now.
I AM STILL HERE
In my career as an engineering geologist, I worked for two environmental consulting firms for 45 years. Over those many years, clients and coworkers would come by my office and say: “Art, you’re still here.” It seemed to them that I would be around forever. Retirement came and I enjoyed on-call work, other interests, and hobbies.
Then the world turned upside down at age 74. First, my faithful and loving wife had a brain tumor operation that left her legally blind and I became a caregiver. A year later I was diagnosed with severe oral cancer. Two operations, chemotherapy, and radiation left me facially disfigured, unable to swallow and speak clearly. The odds were against me, but I was determined to survive and thrive. Using all the methods of therapy that I could find (acupuncture, massage, regular exercise, prayer, swallowing and speech therapy) for six years, the doctors have said to me, “You have beaten the odds.” That is very good to hear, and my wife and I enjoy life with a number of limitations, but we are grateful. From time to time during my treatment, friends and acquaintances would look at me and say, “You are still here.” Now many of those people are “gone’, but I am still here. “Why” is the challenge for me? As my cancer-survivor brother told me recently, “You are the deep thinker in the family. You can figure it out and let me know”. This is where I am today and my reason for being here is leaning in the direction of helping other cancer survivors in their difficult journey and continuing to think deeply about other reasons for why I am still here.