Al MilnerAl Milner

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma & Tonsil Cancer Survivor

"It's a good life and a blessing to be here," says Al Milner, 68. "I consider myself a pretty lucky man." Al's first cancer diagnosis came with a five-year life expectancy.

That was 16 years ago. After tonsil cancer was diagnosed a decade ago, the painful treatment required to beat it whittled away 100 pounds and forever changed how Al eats and speaks. Al says at first he was "a bullheaded tough guy" who turned inward, away from others. "I'd say I was OK, but I wasn't."

He credits counselor Stephanie Koraleski of Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center Behavioral Health with helping him open up and reenter life. Today Al helps other cancer survivors one-on-one and through support groups, sharing lessons learned with humor and insight.

A widower who dearly misses his beloved wife Ginny, a 41-year cancer survivor, Al enjoys spending time with their children and grandchildren, cooking, cycling, walking and gardening. "I do stop and smell the roses—and the marigolds too."