Service to others has always been an important part of Scottie's life. The Glasgow, Kentucky native and former police officer serves as a supervisor at the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training in Richmond, where he works to ensure that the newest additions to Kentucky's law enforcement agencies are prepared for the important roles they are about to assume.
In early 2012, Scottie began treatment for what he and his physician initially thought were internal hemorrhoids. When his symptoms did not improve, he underwent a new battery of tests and was told a biopsy would be needed. "My testing was done on March 21, 2012. On March 22, Dr. William Walton called to inform me it was cancer, and to tell me that he felt we needed to expedite our next steps," said Scottie.
His diagnosis was Stage III b anal cancer, a rare form of cancer that predominantly affects men, but also strikes women. "The biggest challenge for me after learning I had cancer was just to work through the mental process that accompanies that diagnosis," said Scottie. "It is so important to stay positive and to try not to worry about what could be, or to think "why me", because the moment you mentally give up, it's over."
Despite the inherent difficulty of a cancer diagnosis, Scottie is quick to point out the positive aspects of his experience, citing "the strong support of my family and friends, and the willingness of people in the community to help" as overwhelming and humbling. He says taking things one day at a time and thinking of others helps him manage the challenges he faces as a cancer patient. "Having close family and friends to fight for is a powerful motivation," said Scottie.
Scottie stresses that education and open communication with his healthcare team are vital components of his care, "educate yourself, know what questions to ask and don't hesitate to ask for multiple opinions and new points of view. My physicians here have been very supportive of me and very willing to collaborate," said Scottie.
He urges patients to work with their medical team to locate reputable sources of information, emphasizing that knowledge is empowering, but there is "a lot of misinformation out there," and patients need to be cautious of online sources in particular. "[Research] gives you a lot of faith in your medical team because you know that they are following national standards for care...The doctors and nurses here are so positive and upbeat, and they do everything they can to make the cancer experience easier."
When asked what advice he would give to a newly diagnosed cancer patient, Scottie quickly said, "You need a support system. If you don't have a strong support system at home, find and join a support group in your community. A support system is critical to help you cope with the physical and mental challenges of cancer."
Scottie Saltsman's courage and bravery were an inspiration, and he will be greatly missed by those whose lives he touched.
"Having close family and friends to fight for is a powerful motivation."
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