Today is a good day. Today is a good news day, and I am very happy to share that with you: this morning, I had the results of my last scan, and it showed that I am still in remission! Yay!!!! They are no words to express how relieved and grateful I am. I feel extremely fortunate that God granted me a new chance to live without cancer. I am deeply honored and forever grateful.
I am not going to lie: the last four weeks (since my last doctor appointment) have been mentally very challenging. I never thought that this part of the treatment/recovery would give me such a hard time. Indeed, one would think that the physical part of a cancer treatment is the most difficult part, like the high dose chemo for instance in my case. Well, that was not the case…
The last chemo – the high dose chemo – came after almost one year of treatment. Technically, it was my third chemo. So I already had some experience about how to handle things during this period and what to expect, although each chemo is different. Further, I have been highly briefed and prepared by my wonderful nurses – Cindy and Xuan – for this very unique type of treatment (stem cells transplant). At home, we had a great plan in place with family coming over and rotating to make sure we had help for one full month. And my wonderful wife had everything else covered at home so I would be well taken care of. Really, we were prepared.
So my only job was to stay positive, go to the cancer care center every day, get the chemo, then get my stem cells back, rest and recover. This is what I did. And I was fortunate enough that I didn’t have bad side effects from the chemo. Then, following my doc’s advice, I pushed myself to do things around the house (and the yard!) to live a life as normal as possible. And during all that time, I felt great mentally, because I was in fighter mode and I had so many people around me fighting with me.
Then the time came when I needed less medical care. I was allowed to stay home more. Shortly after, I was told I was doing even better and they didn’t need to see me for one month. Holly Molly! Then my father-in-law flew back to the West coast and that was it: from daily medical care I was left home with the mission to resume my life. Boom. Go figure how to do that.
This is when I started to go down hill. My mind started to go crazy about so many bad thoughts: “What if the treatment didn’t work? What is that pain I feel in my chest? Is it a sign that the cancer is back? Oh, I feel my lower back is hurting now, I remember I felt that too when I was first diagnosed last year, and shoot, I am sweating big time at night, that was another symptom last year as well!” This is how things went bad. No matter what my lovely wife would tell me at that time, nothing would reassure me. Fears and worries took over my mind. My thought process was that I needed to be ready for the worst case scenario. Earlier this year, when my doc told me that I relapsed, I was not ready, so this time, being ready for the worst was essential. Unfortunately, this approach didn’t do me any good.
Again, thanks to my amazing wife (what would I do in life without her?), I took a few actions to get better. I tried some medication, but that didn’t help: I lost appetite (me losing appetite? That was not something possible: I didn’t even lose my appetite during the high dose chemo!), and I couldn’t sleep right. So I quickly stopped the pills. Then I started counseling and that really helped. I also started yoga. That helped too. And I went back to work. But what helped me the most was to realize that no matter what, I have to keep moving forward. When shit happens, we can either decide to be defeated, do nothing and get depressed, or we can choose to take another step forward, and another one, and another, and so on. Moving forward is not going to take all the bad things away, but it will help stay positive and enjoy life one step at a time.
God granted me a few more months until the next scan, the next step. I am going to do my best to enjoy this time at the fullest, with my family, no matter what. Thank you to all of you who have sent us so many positive thoughts, prayers and showed so much support.
May you join me now and pray for the full remission of two friends and fellow cancer survivors who could use some good news too. Both are young adults like me, with young kids and a full life to live still ahead of them:
– Sego: she was diagnosed with leukemia last year, soon after I was diagnosed with lymphoma. We both went into remission a few months apart, and we both relapsed this year. Sego needs prayers so her current chemo works, but also prayers to find a donor for bone marrow transplant that would cure her.
– Sam: he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer almost one year ago. We met at the cancer care center. He has been through a lot of chemo treatments, but the last scan showed that the cancer has spread. He is now under a new type of chemo and he needs prayers so this treatment works.
Thank you for joining me in prayers for them.
See you for the next story.