“I fight. I survive. I inspire.”

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“I fight. I survive. I inspire.”

photo of Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart likes his pace. Busy, but not chaotic. Steady, but not fast. Every day, the Appomattox cattle farmer tends to all the needs of his 500 acres where he raises beef cattle to sell at the Lynchburg Livestock Market. Retiring to a golf course was never his plan.

“Everybody’s got to have a purpose,” Robert said. “You just get up in the morning and make yourself do something.”

A throat cancer diagnosis in 2013 devastated him. Robert, 75, thought he was battling bronchitis for three months. Tim Courville, MD, of Blue Ridge ENT, told him he had cancer after a biopsy.

He put his faith in Michael O’Neill, MD, radiation oncologist, and Kathleen Paul, MD, oncologist, at Centra Alan B. Pearson Regional Cancer Center.

“It’s a good one-on-one relationship,” Robert said. “You couldn’t ask for anything better. Whoever gets cancer, it’s a frightening experience. I decided we would fight it as long as we could.”

Almost 18 months after his initial diagnosis, Kenneth Saum, MD, thoracic surgeon, removed a spot detected on Robert’s lung by a CT scan. “Those physicians have been very important to me throughout this,” Robert said. “I was determined I was going to do exactly what they told me.”

Robert showed what determination looks like. “I’m still here,” he said. “When you are first told, don’t fold. Don’t give up. That’s not the end of the world. Go with the program and do your part.”

After spending his career in the garment business, Robert jumped into farming, calling it his “senior’s hobby.”

Robert stays quite busy. “I do it all by myself. From the spring to early fall, your time is pretty taxed.”

Cancer free, Robert relishes each sunrise and sunset that backdrops his Appomattox farm. “To me, every one of them is a pretty one.”

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