Staying in the Fight: Bobby Clark's Cancer Story
Mar 06, 2020 Katie Rosenblum
Last year, Bobby Clark was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. The 48-year-old Marine sergeant major had been suffering from severe stomach pain and cramping for three days.
When he went to the emergency room in his hometown of San Diego, he was shocked by the diagnosis.
"The doctor came in and said it was cancer," Bobby says. "I heard what the doctor said, but I just kept thinking, 'What do you mean?'"
Bobby doesn't have a family history of cancer. He wasn't due for a colonoscopy for another two years. None of that mattered in that moment. He had cancer, and now he had to fight it.
Within 24 hours, Bobby was having surgery because doctors worried his colon might rupture. Doctors performed an ostomy procedure, also known as a bowel diversion—a common procedure for colon cancer patients.
During recovery and after the shock had worn off, Bobby and his wife, Taria, started exploring his options. They looked for a second opinion, and at the advice of friends they saw Dr. Zuri Murrell, a physician at the Colorectal Cancer Center at Cedars-Sinai.
Bobby left his first meeting with Dr. Murrell feeling confident in the team and the care he would receive at Cedars-Sinai. He proceeded with the treatment plan that Dr. Murrell and oncologist Dr. Andrew Hendifar put together.
"The first doctors we saw really had a doom-and-gloom mentality," says Taria. "When we came to Cedars-Sinai, we got that glimmer of hope that we needed to push forward."
Bobby started an aggressive chemotherapy treatment in September. He's completed 12 rounds and now he's scheduled for surgery.
"He's amazing. He's strong enough to attempt to fight this, and he still has a smile on his face," says Dr. Murrell. "He's an obvious fighter."
Bobby draws on his experience as a Marine to keep going. He first enlisted at 17, straight out of high school, and he's spent his adult life serving his country.
"We say in the Marines, 'You've got to stay in the fight,'" says Bobby. "For me, the way is up from here. This is a challenge and it's changed my outlook on life—but I'm going to stay in the fight."