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With the Help of Hackensack Meridian Health, NJ Electrician Beats Testicular and Esophageal Cancer


As a 20-year-old man in the mid-1980s, electrician John Keane survived Stage IV testicular cancer at Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH), receiving the most aggressive chemotherapy treatments yet administered by the health system at that time. Unnamed

Because of the biological stress from Keane’s treatment, and in conjunction with his wife’s personal fertility circumstances, the couple was told they’d never have children. 

“We then had four children over the next five years,” remembered Keane, triumphantly. 

Fast-forward 32 years. During a normal workday, Keane experienced dizziness and a complete lack of energy. “I felt like if I were to fall down, I wouldn’t be able to get back up,” said Keane. 

When Keane went for testing into what he thought was a heart problem, he was told his hemoglobin level was down to 3.8 grams per deciliter (the normal level for men being more than 13 grams per deciliter). 

“You’re bleeding out, internally,” Keane remembered hearing from his physicians. 

Keane then turned again to Hackensack Meridian Health, where they found a mass and diagnosed him with Stage IIIB esophageal cancer. 

“They told my wife initially that, because I had received so much chemotherapy in my previous cancer, the chance of response to treatment was low, and gave me a 1 percent chance of survival,” Keane recounted. 

Through surgical intervention, chemotherapy, and the diligent care of his HMH oncologist, Dr. Tracy Proverbs-Singh, John Keane was once again a survivor. 

And once again in the late-2010s—just as it was in the late-1980s—his drive to survive was the urge to see his family unit grow and thrive. 

“I said, ‘God, let me just live to see one grandchild,’” remembered Keane in working through his hour of need. “Just let me see one grandchild.”

Today, John Keane is the father of five children the odds told him he wouldn’t have, and he is the grandfather of five grandchildren the odds told him he wouldn’t live to see. 

“At my age [52 at the time of his diagnosis], you look at your life through your family and look to stay around longer,” said Keane. “I’ve stayed around long enough to see a big, wonderful family as a father and a grandfather.”

 

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