Both of Kirk’s parents waged difficult, painful battles against cancer. Those trials left Kirk with a real understanding of the pain and fear that the disease inflicts on victims and their families.
So in early 1992, when he started to feel a new pain, Kirk knew what he was up against.
He was eventually diagnosed with testicular cancer. That year alone, he underwent three surgeries and chemotherapy. His battle resumed two years later when, on a routine CT-scan, doctors found a tumor in his abdomen related to the original cancer.
Finally in 1995, Kirk was pronounced cancer-free. But his battle, like the ones his parents fought, left a deep and lasting impact on him.
In a way, the cancer brought with it some gifts. One was the sense of freedom to do some things he’d always found a reason not to do – like run for public office. Another was the short-term focus and long-term vision that now drives Kirk’s approach to public service. He also learned that the best-laid, long-term plans may never be met if sickness or tragedy strikes.
So Kirk now focuses on what he can do right now with his life. Given time, anyone can accomplish greater and greater things. But all that’s certain is today.
The greatest gift of cancer was the simple opportunity to survive it. That opportunity was the direct result of early, effective and frequent health care. Kirk believes strongly that others should know this opportunity – not lose it because they don’t have access to health care.
While Kirk survived his battle with cancer, his parents didn’t survive theirs. He’s often said that, if his family was going to have to suffer so much from this beast, it’s a blessing that his mother got it first. In her decades-long fight against it, she taught the family how to deal with it. That starts with never giving into it.