justtrev shared an experience
Oh No: The Journey
I thought I was invincible and unfortunately a lot of us think we are. I found hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightness. I didn’t judge the universe but in fact said, “Let it be done to me according to thy word…”
Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy…it was a long, painful and hard journey and I learned a lot along the way, not only about myself but also about people and it has drawn me closer to the Almighty.
It was no secret that I was fighting cancer. Some people saw the need to keep it a secret and some who knew was afraid to talk to me about it, but I told all who would listen. Cancer was not something I asked for or some STD that I contracted – it was something that just happened and could happen to anyone. No matter how strong a person thinks they are or act, cancer is a very difficult thing to deal with and accept. I kept my façade up very well when the truth of the matter was, I was not doing as well as I said or portrayed.
A year ago and a half ago I was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer. My reaction was two-fold, it was a relief to finally know why I was going through the things and feeling the way I was, but on the other hand, I was thinking cancer - prostate cancer at that!– really!? - me at age 29 with this particular type of cancer. I kept thinking to myself, “why me?” Then the voice in my head replied “why not you?”
I have always been a very strong person; not only for me, but for those I love and care for. In the back of my mind, albeit I was suffering, I felt the need to portray to those around me that I was strong and all was well – when the truth of the matter is the last 3 months of the fight was extremely difficult.
We never know how a person feels or deal with sickness unless we have been through it – and my situation has been an ultimate test for me. I have been around and helped numerous cancer patients, family included and maintained a positive attitude, along with giving off positive energy, I thought that same attitude would have helped me deal with my situation – obviously that was not the case - who feels it knows it.
My treatment began on April 1 2011 with radiation therapy. I remember my cousin saying to me, I think I was on my way to the hospital or the day before, that very soon I’m going to tell her it’s all an April’s Fool Day joke – oh how I wish it were just that! But that it wasn’t.
In May my doctors told me that I would have to do chemo in June as opposed to just radiation as initially planned, because the radiation was working - but not as fast as they expected - that was a VERY hard pill to swallow. I was annoyed for a bit, but I picked up my cross and journeyed on. I kept my positive outlook and began treatment as scheduled.
To be honest the entire month of June was hard for me. I was sick - the combination of the radiation and chemo was unbearable at times. It came to a point where the slightest things were annoying me and I was beginning to annoy myself. I was honestly thinking I have a sickness that people have died from. I could be dead. Then I leaned on the positive and said it could have been worse. This along with reading God’s Holy Word daily gave me the strength to press on and not give up even though there were many time I wanted to.
In August the doctors told me that there was need for a more aggressive form of chemo because again the radiation alone, even though after the end of chemo treatment in June all seemed to be good – the cancer by the beginning of August was sitting there. I sat there in the conference with the medical team, listened to them and asked the relevant questions, then said unapologetically: “it’s not going to happen; I’m not doing any more chemo – I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I’ll start planning my funeral now.”
I immediately called the two closest people to me, who unfortunately live out of the state and were unable to be physically there with me. I told them that this was it, that funeral preparation was on the way and that my obituary was already written. I received harsh words from both of them and I responded just as harsh. Then after all was said and done, I thought about those who loved me; my family (biological, spiritual and adopted) what it would mean to then if I committed suicide, because at the end of the day, that is what it could have been considered to be because, I had the treatment options available and I was refusing it. Then I thought about my nieces, that I would never see them grow up and I made the decision to move forward and to the chemo. With God’s help I’m here today to talk about it. I was sick more than before, but I made it through.
As expressed earlier, I learned a lot about people and especially about those who were close to me at the time. I have learned that the people who are to be there for you will be the ones you least expect this was definitely proven to me. People who were just acquaintances became family to me.
There was a point in during my illness that I felt like I didn’t have anyone to hold on too – It didn’t mean there were not people there, but when you are going through it - only you, who feels it knows it. In conversing with someone close to me, I revealed to her that nobody really knows what a cancer patient is going through except another cancer patient. Even though you have family and loved ones to support and surround you, they would never fully understand.
Through all the sickness, pain and hurt I managed to keep my head up; even though people spoke negative things about me. I have managed to make the best out of the situations and move on.
Throughout my experience I have accepted and appreciated more, the people who have been there for me. As strange as it sounds, it drew a lot of people closer to me and pushed a few people away. The people who I thought were my friends, most of them backed away. I guess not being able to cope and understand that a cancer patient goes through emotional and mental changes, was enough to make them walk.
The old adage “when days are dark friends are few” resonated very loudly during the toughest time of my illness from August to September. For me it doesn’t matter what a person and I have been through in the past, or even if we are close and I just can’t deal with the way they are or what they going through at the moment, I would never turn my back on them. If that person were to die tomorrow, guilt would kill me, because I know that it didn’t have to be that way. I could have been there for that person. I reached out to one of the individuals who was supposed to be close to me and received the below, then I realized and accepted people for who they are:
“Trevor, it's not your fault you are going through this ordeal, but I just feel I have come as far as I can with you on this journey. I wish you nothing but healing and success. I think you are a good person and you have been there for me. I don't negate that and won't forget it, but I feel you have a few things you need to work on without me.”
As harsh at that sounds, the reality of it is that at least the person was honest enough to let me know that how they felt, albeit months after the fact, but honest nonetheless.
I realized that there comes a point in life, when we have to start putting ourselves on the “to-do list.” I remember speaking at a cancer event last October, similar to this one and when I was done a man approached me and said, “I’m so sorry, can I do anything for you?” I said to him, “thanks for your concern, but call your doctor tomorrow and make an appointment. That's what you could do for me ... I will be okay because I found it early.” That is the key. I found my cancer in an early stage and even though it was a rough time - surgery, 5 months radiation treatments and 12 chemotherapy treatments, I can stand today say that God has been good to me.
I am ever so grateful for the people who stood by my side throughout this ordeal. The words “thank you” never seems enough. I have a new lease and outlook on life and nothing or no one is going to change that. God has truly blessed me, and for that I am eternally grateful to Him.
I hope that my story is an inspiration. Hearing you have cancer does not necessarily mean a death sentence - it could be the start of a whole new outlook on life. To those of you “in the fight” I say to you, keep on fighting – cancer does not define who we are. The more we fight, the more we show this enemy that there is no giving up. To those we have lost, we remember and honor you for being in the fight and we will continue fighting. And to those of us who are survivors, who have conquered, I urge you to keep cancer awareness alive – the doctors cannot do it alone. Let’s continue to raise funds, let continue to Stand up to Cancer.
Thank you for listening.