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Residential Department: Getting Personal: April 2008


Getting Personal

First-person accounts from mortgage professionals

Like many mortgage professionals, I made a healthy income in 2005. I didn’t take a lot of time off. Instead, I used my spare time to develop my technology business.

During this period, my passion for work came at the expense of just about everything else. While my earnings were healthy, my body was not.

In early December 2005, a 6-inch lump appeared on one of my lymph nodes at the base of my neck. Concerned, I drove myself to the hospital. My hope was that a doctor would give me a shot of allergy medicine and a clean bill of health and send me home -- and back to work.

Instead, I remained at the hospital for almost a week.

For the first couple of days, my diagnosis was unknown. On the third day, I was told I had lymphoma -- the most common blood cancer. The next step was trying to figure out if it was Hodgkin’s lymphoma (curable) or non-Hodgkin’s, which is more difficult to treat.

During this time, I also was told to “think about putting my affairs in order.” Not only were the physicians unaware of what type of lymphoma I had, but they also didn’t know how advanced it was. Luckily, it turned out to be non-advanced Hodgkin’s.

Within a few weeks, I began chemotherapy and started down the road to recovery. The process, however, was far from easy. Instead of working 80 hours per week, I was suddenly working about 80 minutes per week.

For six months, I essentially had my body poisoned every two weeks to kill off the cancerous cells.

After completing my chemotherapy, I had local radiation applied -- like a giant X-ray -- every day for six weeks.

After my therapy ended, my final checkup was as clean as a whistle.

For me, cancer ultimately served as a wakeup call. One permanent lifestyle change I made was to prioritize fitness. This past July, I started running and registered for the Honolulu Marathon. Six months later -- exactly two years and one day after checking myself into the hospital -- I completed the 26.2-mile race in less than five hours.

The marathon was a fun way to give back -- I raised almost $5,000 for cancer-research charity -- and to celebrate my victory over a deadly disease.

These days, I’m back to working long weeks. Now, however, I eat better and stay active.

I hope that my experience can serve as a wakeup call for others, too. Prioritize your health. Don’t take your physical well-being for granted.

You never know when an unforeseen event will change everything.

Roger Vetruba is founder and CEO of The company provides customizable premade marketing videos for use with Web sites, e-mail, print marketing, group presentations and direct sales. More information can be found online at or by calling (800) 807-5216.


Roger Vetruba runs and, which provide customizable online movies. The subscription service includes new movies each month about various mortgage topics that can be embedded into a Web site, e-mailed or used with print advertising or direct mail. The company also produces live video Web site hosts and provides online-video tools. More information about the company can be found at, by calling (800) 807-5216 or by e-mailing

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