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3 years post-graduation and cancer-free, ‘Life is good,’ Brian says

Brian was recently declared cancer free after 44 radiation treatmentsand nine months of hormone therapy.

Brian was recently declared cancer free after 44 radiation treatments and nine months of hormone therapy.

Entering the program on his own accord was crucial to his success

Brian got his cancer diagnosis in June of last year. After troubling results on a routine screen, further tests showed that he had prostate cancer. “My heart sank when I got the news in the doctor’s office,” he recalled, “but as soon as I stepped outdoors and into the open air, my mood changed. ‘God has me,’ I thought to myself, and I knew that was true.”

Brian was born in the Bronx to first generation Irish immigrants and the family moved to Boston when he was 7. He describes his upbringing as loving and supportive but somewhere around the sixth grade he began sneaking alcohol. By the time he reached the eighth grade he was drinking often and having trouble with the law.

During high school, Brian got DUIs, and was arrested for auto theft, breaking and entering, and resisting arrest. Being a minor though, he managed to avoid anything more serious than probation. Brian somehow managed to still graduate and after high school he worked various jobs while continuing to drink.

At 22 he decided to join the Navy and became a Seabee, working as a builder. “I thought being in the Navy would keep me sober,” he said, “but it was just more partying.”

After leaving the service, Brian found work in construction and as a house painter. He got married, had a son, and bought a house in Boston. But all this time he continued to drink and use drugs; soon his marriage was faltering and he had lost his house. Brian followed his wife to California in the hope of a fresh start. Unfortunately, his troubles followed him west and he earned two jail terms for possession and felony resisting arrest.

Out of prison, Brian came to our Life Recovery Program in 2004 on a court order, and though he graduated, he relapsed almost immediately, and went through the entire program again. “I can’t say I got nothing out of my first time here, but I wasn’t fully invested,” he said. “I didn’t learn what I needed to learn to stay sober.”

After continuing the same lifestyle of work and drinking for 13 more years, Brian finally decided he had to make a change and he returned voluntarily to the program in September 2020. “Deciding on my own to come back made a big difference,” he said. “This time I was here to please God and not man.”

Brian found the support he needed and felt he was at last in the right place to truly make a change: “I knew of God since I was young, but this was the first time I knew God and had a relationship with him,” he said. “That has made all the difference.”

After graduating Brian spent time as a Vocational Resident and was subsequently hired to be a part of RMA’s maintenance team. He also currently resides in our transitional living apartments. Brian has made several recent trips to Boston to have his DUI cases cleared and while there he gets to visit the family he has reconciled with.

Recently, after 44 radiation treatments and nine months of hormone therapy, Brian has been declared cancer free. “In some ways the follow up tests were more  stressful than actually having cancer. I was always worried what the results would be,” he said. After pausing for a moment he continued, “but in reality, the worry didn’t last long. I knew that God still had me no matter what the results were.”

Brian credits the Rescue Mission for saving his life and giving him a future. But in the end, he knows it was God who was the power behind all of it. “He has blessed me with sobriety, a great job, wonderful co-workers, and a safe place to live where I am still accountable,” Brian said. “Life is good.”

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