On Tuesday September 16, I got a call from my doctor around 5:00 p.m. By the tone of his voice, I could tell something was wrong… Sounding like he was nervous, he went on to state the MRI showed I had a tumor in the bone marrow of the lumbar spine… His next sentence is what scared me… he said he was referring me to a cancer specialist. 

At age twenty-four, Eric Hogan was beginning the Nuclear Medicine program at the University of Oklahoma, studying the science and practice of administering medical scans to cancer patients. When he woke up one morning with back pain, he had no idea how real his education was going to get.

He is soon diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cancer takes the life of his own grandfather just twenty-seven days later. Backbone includes Eric’s journals during his difficult experience with this disease at each stage of treatment, and his entries range from frustration, anger, and depression to motivation, determination, and perseverance.

Whether you have cancer or know someone with cancer, Eric’s story will help anyone better understand and cope with the unexpected challenges of diagnosis and treatment. In following his struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy and hope for the future, it becomes clear that assuming the identity of a survivor and not a victim is the most important step of battling this disease. Eric Hogan is a two-time cancer survivor and has a bachelor’s degree in Radiologic Technology. He currently resides in Piedmont, Oklahoma.