LAYTON -- As Todd Handy lay in his hospital bed nearly two years ago, a thought came to him: What if the doctors find something else and it turns out his bicycle accident was actually a blessing in disguise?
Unbeknownst to him, his wife Lisa had the same thought.
Handy's thought came to fruition when his doctor told him that not only did he have broken ribs and a collapsed lung, but he could possibly have cancer as well.
"We both knew that the Lord's hand had to be in it somehow. So when the doctor told me of the enlarged lymph nodes the next day, we were not only surprised, but when he said it might be an infection, testicular cancer or lymphoma, we were both fairly certain it would turn out to be lymphoma; which it was."
Handy, 41, was involved in an accident on July 3, 2009, when he was struck by a car at an intersection in North Ogden, while riding his bike from his home in Layton to Logan. An avid bicyclist, Handy kissed his wife and children goodbye and told them he would meet them later in the day to watch the fireworks at Utah State University.
Handy never arrived. Instead, he ended up in the emergency room at McKay-Dee Hospital where he was treated by Dr. Robert Moesinger.
Moesinger sent Handy for a Cat Scan to determine the extent of his injuries. Dr. Mark Keeton, a radiologist at Mountain Medical Physician Specialists, not only saw his injuries, he noticed some abnormal lymph nodes on the scan.
"It's rare to find a significant major finding or a life-threatening disease on an imaging study that is being performed for other reasons," Keeton said. "These cases are particularly rewarding for me because early diagnosis often saves the patient's life."
Keeton said radiologists are always thorough when reviewing studies. Although they evaluate the primary reason for the exam, he said they also look closely at the whole area being examined and interpret any and all findings.
After a biopsy confirmed B cell follicular non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that affects B cell lymphocytes, Handy was sent to the Hunstman Cancer Institute for more tests and radiation treatments. As of last week, Handy's CT scan is clear.
"My type of cancer is incurable so my doctors tell me we'll have to approach it like a chronic disease. It may come and go," Handy said.
At the time of his diagnosis, Handy was having none of the signs of lymphoma that Keeton said include severe weight loss, shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, fatigue and itching. Even though Handy was vigilant about getting a yearly exam, he said the cancer probably wouldn't have shown up for some time.
He believes the accident, along with vigilant physicians at his side was a miracle in disguise.
"One of the medical terms for my cancer is indolent, meaning it's slow-growing. It's not aggressive, which is good, but since it's indolent it's also incurable," Handy said. "So I don't think I would have know about it any time soon had it not been for the accident. I do think had we not had the accident and found out early, perhaps I would have had a much worse time dealing with the cancer, and perhaps I would not have been so blessed to be where I am at this point."
Handy and his wife have three daughters and two dogs. A director of New Media Sales for Deseret Digital Media, Handy began racing his BMX as a kid. He got into road cycling in 2003 and began racing the following year. He has raced LOTOJA six times, which includes riding from Logan to Jackson, Wyoming in one day. Other hobbies and interests include camping, traveling, golf, snowboarding, basketball and time with family.
Handy said although he feels his diagnosis was a blessing, the love and support of his family, along with faith and prayer got him through his treatments.
"I believe the Lord knows each of us individually and he knows our concerns and needs," Handy said. "When we take things to Him in prayer and have faith, He will watch over us. That does not mean bad things don't happen. It means the Lord is in charge and He will care for us, whatever the outcome may be."
Handy also said cancer doesn't always mean your life is over.
"My wife has never liked one of my favorite idioms, 'It is what it is.' But it's true and it's very true with cancer," Handy said. "When a 40 year-old is diagnosed with cancer he can think, 'Oh great. My life is over,' or he can think, 'OK we'll deal with this and we'll get through it.' but it is what it is and I can't change it so I'll deal with it."
Today, Handy is busy raising money for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation and the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He has his own fundraising page, http://hcf.kintera.org/h140/toddhandy, and is encouraging the public to donate. The money goes strictly to Huntsman for cancer research.