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D-Day for a Kidney Cancer Warrior

Rick Loucks

It was July 1, 2010. After more than a week in the hospital, my husband Rick was glad to be headed home, even if home wasn’t very familiar to us yet. As he got into the car, he turned to me and said, “D-Day.”

I looked at him quizzically, trying to figure out what he was talking about. We were coming up on the Fourth of July, and D-Day was at least a month earlier. Rick buckled his seatbelt and said, “D-Day. June 25. D-Day.”
June 25. That was the day we found out. The day we learned that the agonizing pain he was in the night before was not caused by kidney stones but instead by a large mass in his kidney – one that had already metastasized throughout his body.

“Oh”, I said. “D-Day. Diagnosis Day.”

My military man—the one who has read every Stephen Ambrose book and countless other real-life accounts of the survivors of the original D-Day on the beaches of Normandy during World War II—shook his head.

“No,” he said. “The boys in the boats, they knew they were headed into hell. Most knew they’d never survive the beach, never see the dawn that day. They knew they were dead going into the day.”

Rick went on to explain that those who did survive never forgot that day.

“Most of the soldiers interviewed later said it was a day of demarcation. They died that day on the beach. Every day after was a gift. Those soldiers never forgot how lucky they were to wake up in the morning, to live another day.”

I asked how that related to him. My military man replied, “June 25, 2010. That was my D-Day. When the doctor told me I had stage IV kidney cancer, the old me died. I don’t know how many more days I’ll get to wake up, but I promise you I won’t forget, and I won’t stop trying to get up and appreciate the fact that I get one more day.”

Richard “Rick” Loucks (03/27/63 – 09/24/15) worked for the U.S. Army and served in the U.S. Naval Reserves, studied military strategy, and dreamed of being a Navy Pilot. In the photo above, Rick is the handsome one with the dark hair on the left. He and his best friend, Frank, were sworn into the reserves together. Rick taught his son to salute and left an undying memory in the minds of all who met him. He woke up and seized the day 1,918 times following his D-Day. His determination, will and fortitude earned him a place beside those men who survived D-Day. It remains a guidepost for all of us who loved him and for the entire patient community that continues the fight.

Help us arm our spouses, our families, our friends and our community with the treatments that can carry us from the beach onto victory and a cure. Please donate to KCCure to help us fund the kidney cancer research that can make those treatments a reality.

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Vicki Loucks, a former commercial banker and the manager of client experience for a nationally recognized consultancy, is a caregiver and patient advocate, as well as a member of the KCCure board of directors.
  • Kellie hudnut

    My d day was October 8 2015 when I learned the 11cm tumor I had removed was in fact rcc and I was stage 3. They removed my right kidney and adrenal gland and several pounds of surrounding tissue. My life will never be the same and I will dread my 6 month scans for the next 5 years but I refuse to give up. I have difficult days but I refuse to let cancer overtake me.

    • Scanxiety can be overwhelming. I hope every one of your 6-month scans are clear showing you to be cancer free.

      We’ll keep working on the research in the hopes of finding out why some cancers to grow while others don’t. Understanding how it works will go a long way toward discovering ways to stop it!

      To your health!

  • My D-day is June 11, 2009. I knew going in that I had precious little chance to survive my diagnosis. I also knew that with all the people and life experiences I have yet to live for, I will fight for every single breath of air I need to see them through. #kccure #notiejuly
    Surviving — in spite of all the medicine, the doctors, the friends and your family — is not a team sport. Surviving happens between your ears. Be a survivor!

    • Keep on surviving Mike! You are so right – much of this battle happens inside your head. Keep focusing on yours and we’ll keep fighting for a cure!

  • Kelly Neary

    Vicky, I can’t stop the tears… my husband, John, called January 10, 2010 D-Day too… he read every Steven Ambrose book as well. And, though John didn’t serve – he lived and breathed the military. I was sure he was reincarnated from WWII… I can’t help but think that these two men should have known each other. John passed on January 25, 2015. He was just 50 yrs old. Edward John Neary III, born May 4, 1964 left this world officially in the early morning of January 25, 2015 – but, like Rick, John’s “old me” died on his D-Day, but he saluted every day with honor and courage that he had for the next 5 years following. Thank you for sharing your story. I sure hope that John and Rick are saluting each other now. Love and hugs to you, dear friend.

    • Thank you Kelly. I remember John well and grieved along side you when he left this world. I hope John and Rick have found each other and are swapping stories with their heroes. Sending you peace as you heal your broken heart.

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