Thursday, December 3, 2015

Surgery: Success? or Failure?

Welcome to the latest edition of my life.

You know what? I feel sick lately. Not THAT kind of sick, come on... it makes me sick to see how we are treating each other. I mean wow. BYU plays Utah in a sport and all of the sudden everyone jumps at each others throats just because they have a preference for a different team? You disagree in the political world? Watch out for some not-so politically correct words to be thrown your way on Facebook by the kid you sat next to in 5th grade. It just makes me feel awful. Call me "cliche" or whatever, but you know what? The freaking beatles were right. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE. I just really wish we could be nicer to each other. Sheesh. Life is already hard, why are we making it harder by being mean? Don't get me wrong.. I am not perfect. At all. But I am trying to change, I am trying to see the good in people. I WANT to give people the benefit of the doubt. I think that is a good place to start.

Sorry I had to get that little rant out of the way. On the bright side, surgery was very successful!! The operation (to remove the cancerous tumor) went just about as good as it could have gone. I had surgery Monday morning, and was sent home on Wednesday morning (due to good behavior;). I have been laying down, recovering ever since! I am not exaggerating. I literally lay around all day. I might have lost my mind by now, if my super awesome girlfriend Jessy didn't visit me. For some reason she doesn't mind sitting on the couch with me for hours on end. What a doll.

Yeah, I am dating someone now. Don't act so surprised! Give me a little more credit. Ha! I have known Jessy since 7th grade, and couldn't be happier that we are dating. I can't tell you how grateful I am for her! She has seen it all. A wide range of physical and emotional pain. She has been there for me way before we started dating. Few people know me quite like she does, and I don't know if anyone has seen me at my lowest points like she has. Anyway, I could write about her forever. I am just glad that 9 years ago I had the guts to talk to her on the stage at OJH. (Is this cheesy enough for you jessy?) :)

As of now I am "N.E.D" which stands for "no evidence of disease". I am not technically cancer free until there is no evidence for five years. But I will take it for now!! I am going to UVU next semester, and looking to live life as fully as I can. You don't have to be on your deathbed to take life by the horns. You really do have to live every day like you are dying.

I noticed something interesting!! Talking to people about cancer was weird, unless it was someone who also had cancer. You can totally relate to each other on such a higher level because they understand what you are going through. I was so grateful to have conversations with fellow cancer-warriors, it was just relieving! I longed for those rare talks because it didn't happen very often. Finally it hit me, God knows. *Here I am crying while I type this* but really. He knows. I was able to go to the Forgotten Carols last week (shoutout to the Russell family for taking me) and I had a very spiritual experience. If you have ever been, you know that at the end Michael McLean has everyone sing a song together, but he also asks people to think about specific things. He asked us to picture Jesus Christ. In that moment, I was just overcome. I had flashes of my worst days in the hospital. Writhing in pain at my house, screaming at the wall because I didn't think I could do another day (that was only after 4 chemo treatments). Then I saw all of those times, and Jesus was literally there. I saw Him next to my bed. Standing in my room. When I cried? He cried. When I couldn't move without throwing up, he was sitting next to me patting me on the back. God knows. He is the one person that can always relate to you.

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer (free) and all.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Run, Forrest, Run!!

Surgery got rescheduled.. again. Before you get too upset, it was our fault this time!! I know. I know. Who would have thought that we would ever try and push the surgery back? Well we did! It was for good reason though. I was nominated to be a "Thursday's Hero" for the BYU football program! (Google it if you are really interested to learn more). I was able to go to a practice, get a tour, and meet the coaches/players! It was SO DANG COOL. I even asked Tanner Mangum to throw me a deep pass... it only took two attempts to catch it :) So they are giving me tickets to go to the last home game! The only problem? The only home game is on the 21st. One day after my surgery date. Therefore we pushed the surgery back until the 23rd!!

I finished with radiation!! 28/28 treatments completed. Yay! 

Kevin Padilla is the man!! He is organizing a "Seanstrong" 5k run this Saturday (November 14th)!! It starts at 9am, and boy would I love to see all of you there. My mom has been working hard to put this together, and so has the amazing Sam Hadlock (the best graphic designer ever)!. They are all trying to make his event the best it can be! All of the money we earn will be donated to Synovial Cell Sarcoma (my rare type of cancer) research!! So please, come and party with us!! If you really don't like to run, we do need volunteers! Here is the website to sign up:

I have been pretty selfish lately. Even though treatments are over, I still feel awful a lot of the times. Its mainly fatigue/exhaustion. It sucks physically, but it gets to you mentally after living like that for 8 months or however long it has been. I started thinking things like "how come people don't understand what I am going through", etc. I couldn't explain how difficult it was to just make it through a day.. and I stopped trying because I realized how annoying the complaining was. BUT then one day it hit me pretty hard. How often does Jesus Christ want us to just understand what He went through, and take time to sympathize with him? Man I felt like an idiot after that. He went through so much more than me, and He deserves the attention/thoughts. 

Cancer sucks but I really do feel like I have aged 50+ years (physically and mentally). Lots of life experiences and thoughts packed into a few months. What a ride it has been.

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How would you like your meat cooked? RARE.

If you are wondering about the title of this post.. I chose that because this is entry is going to be very RAW. I don't want to be superficial, I want to be genuine. So lets see how this goes.

Actually I should probably start by saying that I didn't get surgery on September 21st! Surprise!! Yep. They postponed it again. I really should start expecting these things to happen now... The reason for pushing it back is because now I am going through radiation treatments. Wahoo (Insert extreme sarcasm here). I am about half way done with radiation, and surgery is now scheduled for late November. But hey, don't expect that to actually happen. 

Okay back to the point of this post.

Ever since I was diagnosed I chose to ignore what I was facing. It just made it easier. I tried not to think too much. By doing those things, I blocked out a lot of emotions. Yeah, I had an occasional bad day... but nothing too bad. I have recently learned how poisonous it can be to hold those kinds of feelings in. Let me fill you in.

For some reason everything has caught up to me lately. I have lost interest in things that used to excite me. I am usually a very social person, but recently being around people has lost it's appeal. I cry a lot when I am alone. I don't mean just tears, but uncontrollable sobbing. Thinking about my future makes me sick. I don't want to deal with it anymore. I am at the point where I have had enough... I get so frustrated that I have to put up with all of this crap. I mean, how much can one person take?! It is so hard to look to the future with a positive attitude, when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and not have to deal with anything. 

Something else that is hard? Ever since starting this blog I have felt the need to be some type of hero. I feel like people view me as this "amazingly positive" person. "Oh Sean, you are such an inspiration" etc. I love that I have inspired people, I truly do. Please don't misunderstand that. BUT in the past I forced myself to fake some things.. because I never wanted to disappoint anyone. I wanted to be that hero! Whoever is reading this, I wanted to be your hero. I learned that you can't last very long on a lie that you tell yourself. WE can all be an inspiration, or whatever, but that doesn't mean we have to be perfect. What kind of bull is that? HA I am thinking about it now and laughing! We have to be realistic with our surroundings and FEEL emotions that are meant to be felt. Imperfections don't make us weak. They make us REAL. OH MY GOSH. I wish I knew this months and months ago. I just want to scream this all at the top of my lungs!!!! Just be yourself. Make the best with what you have. Don't block out important feelings. Understand that you aren't perfect, and that is something quite beautiful if you think about it. (I will think out loud about that... How amazing is the love we have for spouses, friends, family, etc? They are all imperfect, yet for some reason that makes us love and support them even more... It is flipping beautiful!! Think about it)

I am really loving this rant right now. Stay with me, it isn't over yet.

I am just going to throw this out there. I started seeing a therapist. Boy oh boy, I needed to. There are so many awful things that come with cancer. I got pretty addicted to my pain killers. (Side note, I had a terrible run in with constipation... I am no longer addicted to them! Yes it was that bad). Anyway, after that horrible experience I basically swore off those pills. Guess what? Withdrawals suck. I can't even describe it. MORAL of the story... that, along with other depressing feelings, led me to see a therapist. By the way, there is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist. Please get rid of that stigma. You don't have to be psychotic to seek that kind of help. I tell you all of this because I want you to realize the kind of effect that this experience with cancer has had on me. There was a time that I almost tried to convince myself how grateful I was to get cancer... Say what?! I was trying to be the golden boy.. look how amazing he is! He even loves the thing that is killing him! What a great guy. WRONG. I disgust myself sometimes. I hate cancer. I hate what it has done to my life. I hate how much it has changed me, physically AND emotionally AND mentally. Wow it sucks. Gotta be honest, and it feels good. Seriously, just be honest with yourself and everyone around you.

I walked into my appointment with my therapist and I was looking for answers! I wanted to be cured. I got advice, but it wasn't exactly what I was looking for.. He told me about how fighting depression is like swimming upstream (sounds daunting already, huh?). You have to do things that you don't want to do in order to overcome the feelings of depression. Well gee, thanks doc. That is literally the opposite of what I wanted to hear! Well, he is right. He was saying that if depression was a living thing it would eat/live on negative thoughts, dark rooms, lonely days, etc. I thought that was so interesting! Lately I have felt like compromising my standards, doing stupid things, etc... I could sense myself at a fork in the road of life. I could choose what path to take, and it was almost liberating. As tempting as some things sounded.. I realized that I just want to be true to myself. Yeah it sucks. Yeah sometimes I don't want to do the "right things", but I just have to do them. That is my golden advice for the week... do the things you know you should, even when you don't want to. 

I struggle. You struggle. Hey! We all struggle. Lets try a little harder to be more realistic with ourselves, and those we love. It sure does go a long way. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The WHY Factor

Well I suppose it is time for an update, eh? Pardon my Canadian. It is in my blood... to some degree. I think? Man now I need to double check on that. Anyway. As of August 7th, I am DONE with chemo. Can you talk about relief? SHEESH. I won't go into the dirty details, but I am so relieved that I won't have to experience the miserable hell that comes along with those treatments anymore. It feels good to be moving onto the next chapter of this adventure.

Speaking of which! I have my surgery date! I am scheduled for the 21st of September. Honestly? A little farther out than I was expecting.. but I can work with that!! My only task before surgery, is to get as healthy/physically fit as possible. Well that is what my parents heard the doctor say... I actually heard, "Eh just watch TV and Movies like you have been doing!". So that is basically 100% of my days now, and what can I say? Just trying to follow doctors orders ;)

I have had a lot of time to think lately... (you can blame it on the cabin fever). I couldn't figure out why it is easier to endure some things, but it can be near impossible to endure other things. It especially boggled my mind when the two "things" were very similar. What was it exactly that made such a huge difference? I finally realized it all depends on the WHY. The WHY factor is huge. If you want to get on a deeper level.. the WHY factor affects every aspect of your life. Have you ever asked yourself why you do the things that you do? Why do you wake up in the mornings? Why do you go to school? Think about it. Really figure out WHY you are doing these things. I did that for myself, and then I started to think about the things that I hardly ever want to do. I will give you an example to help illustrate what I am talking about:

Picture a young father with a few kids. He comes home from work, and he is exhausted. He looks over in the corner and notices the dirty dishes calling his name. He knows that they need to be done, so he does them. TIME-OUT. He was dreading those dishes right? Well what happens to our young father when he takes a minute to step back. He has time to realize that his kids (whom he absolutely loves) wouldn't be able to eat without their father taking care of that menial chore. Now he understands one reason WHY the dishes need to be done, and it changes his perspective on doing the dishes. 

Alright, it was a stretch... I will admit that. But do you see the point behind it? If you take time to realize WHY you might be going through a trial, or WHY you have to do chores that are seemingly a waste of time, then you can have a whole new perspective. A perspective that can lead to more happiness and a greater sense of purpose. Two things I believe we are all searching for. 

Let me clarify something though. I think everyone understands the concept of prayer, whether you are religious or not. I have said this before, but I try to never ask God the big "WHY" question. As in, "Why did this happen to me?!" It is always more productive to ask "WHAT" can I learn from this. The WHY factor is something that can help us though. I have pondered long and hard about why I need to go through this cancer trial right now... After thinking about it for long enough, some things hit me!! I honestly believe that part of the reason is for you. Yes you. Whoever might be reading this message. I am trying to turn this horrible diagnosis around and inspire people in their lives. I don't claim to be this great inspiration, but if a couple people can walk away inspired after reading this, or meeting me, I am doing something right! There you go. I found part of my WHY, and it has helped me endure the treatments. Life is always more difficult without a purpose. I am glad to have found a purpose for all of this pain and misery. 

This was way too long. Moral of the story? No matter what you do, there is a greater purpose to it than you might think. As long as you apply the "WHY" factor, you can learn what that purpose is. Once you understand that, and have a purpose, clear the way!! That is when magic will happen in your life. (excuse the cheesy last-liner)

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Keep Calm and Fight On

Sometimes in life you find yourself not knowing what exactly to say... for me, it happens almost on a daily basis. I mean what exactly am I supposed to say when everyone and their dog (seriously a dog asked me this the other day) asks "How are you doing??". Haha oh boy, talk about a loaded question. I always take a minute to step back and evaluate where this person is coming from. Do they really want to know? Or are they just trying to be nice? For the most part I just mutter out a simple "I am hanging in there!", because that is the easiest way to answer the question. Occasionally I will actually tell people how things are going, but that usually freaks them out and then THEY are the ones who don't know what to say. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate people caring enough to ask how I am doing... But I care enough about them to not go into details about how things are really going.

Having cancer has yielded a number of awkward experiences for me. Most of the time I don't mind it, and find it entertaining, but recently even I felt a little uncomfortable. Someone I hadn't seen in a while came up to me at an event I was at, and they started rubbing my head. Which by the way, really doesn't bother me. I think most people look at my head thinking to themselves "I really want to put my hands all over that". Not saying I totally understand WHY, just saying it seems to happen a lot. Anyway. This person starts to rub my head and asks me, "Why did you do this?!" and, "It is a good look for you". Uhhh talk about awkward. I was in the middle of a conversation with a friend and we both just looked at each other. I responded with, "I dunno.. it kind of just happened". Hahaha! Whew good times. 

I don't understand a lot of things, and let me tell you one of the many things that falls into that category. Since I have been diagnosed with cancer I have had a lot of people tell me things like "If anyone can beat this, you can" and "Keep fighting!". Those things sound nice in theory, but what the heck do they actually mean? I thought to myself.. How do I "fight" this? I was clueless. It's not like I could put on boxing gloves and get in the ring with my tumor (although I am sure that would be a sight to see). No, it must mean something else. Then I got to thinking, what about those that have died from cancer? Did they "lose" their fight? Absolutely not. If this thing kills me, I will not be a known as a loser. SO that being said... what does it mean?! You beat cancer by the way you live your life. You have to refuse to let it define you. I may be down and out for a while, but I still live life to the fullest. In between treatments I have found myself wake boarding, tubing, flying to California, driving to Arizona, paddle boarding, working out, swimming, kayaking, running a mile (well close to a mile.. I almost made it without throwing up everywhere), etc. I may be exhausted, and miserable at times, but I won't let this stupid cancer win.

The hard times in our life do not define us. Just remember to take them head on. Continue to live your life the best you can. Fight through those times, even if it requires blood sweat and tears. Trust me, I know how hard it can be.. but those painful experiences have been some of the most fulfilling times of my whole life. You can take comfort in looking at the people around you, because we are all FIGHTING our own battles. 

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Happiness is like a Butterfly...

Well I just had the most incredible week of my life! It all started with a trip to California. The Young family is like a second family to me, and I owe them a huge thank you for helping me have such a good vacation. I stayed with one of my best friends Austin while I was out there. It was Spencer, Austin, and I living the dream! Every day we would hit the beach, the pool, and pedro's tacos (or so it felt like). 

Then another mini-vacation happened. This was pretty spontaneous. My plane landed on Thursday at 9:30 pm, I was picked up and went home for a few minutes. I grabbed a few things that I needed (luckily I was already packed) and jumped in the car with Chris to drive through the night down to Arizona. Yup. 10 hours later, at 7:00am, we were in AZ! Can I just say that some of the nicest people live down there? I don't know WHY they live there, it would get too hot for my taste, but they do. The Davis', Baker's, Mitchell's, etc. Not to mention the unbelievable AZ girl squad. Meeting all of these incredible people really taught me a great lesson.. but I will get to that later. Anyway. AZ was a party! We stayed with the one and only Rachel Davis. She took great care of us. We went to the lake (not boating), ate tons of great food, played nertz, went swimming, etc. Couldn't have asked for a better weekend. Here is a picture of Rachel and I, and then one of the crew:

Believe it or not I did learn a few things amidst all of the fun and partying. I have been thinking a lot about happiness lately. What is it exactly? How do you get it? I came across a great quote, it is almost as great as it is cheesy:

"Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder" 

I know, I know... its cheesy. But think about it. How true is that? So I started thinking about how to turn my attention away from happiness... and it hit me. Focus on the people around you in your life. This past week I was incredibly happy!! For instance, there were some things that happened in Arizona that could have made me unhappy.. but I just wasn't. I was happy because I was living in the moment with the people around me. I totally believe that if you want to be happier, you need to take some time to enjoy the people in your life. Kick back and enjoy the scenery. Whatever that means for you!

It doesn't have to be a huge trip though! For example... I spent two hours watching youtube videos with my dad last night. That is all it takes! Anyway. People are awesome, and I am grateful to have spent the week learning more about what it takes to be truly happy.

OH! One last thing. I received a book as a gift called "Every Day I Fight" - Stuart Scott. So far this is one of my favorite quotes from the book: "The contradiction is as top of mind as the cancer itself" Cancer can kill you, but it can also make you the man you always wanted to be". 

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hard Times Come Again No More

Well I met with the doctor yesterday. I walked into his office hoping to be done with chemo, so that I could get surgery already. Again... it didn't work out how I wanted it to. I was told that the tumor was shrinking, but I would have to do four more rounds of chemo. My heart dropped. I guess I had a feeling it was coming, but I didn't want to believe it. 

I'm not gonna lie, this whole experience is hard. It is overwhelming in a lot of different ways. Aside from all of the physical problems, there are plenty of emotional problems as well. I have never been the kind of person to sit around for very long... and that is all I do these days. It is hard to see all of the wedding announcements, graduation pictures, people getting jobs, etc. Everyone seems to be moving on with their life... and here I am... trying to decide which movies to watch for the day. OH just a side note, I watched "The Fault In Our Stars". Wow what a terrible idea! I mean it was a great movie, just horrifically sad. I imagine anyone would find it sad, but given the "cancer" circumstances I am under.. I was an emotional mess. Anyway! That is just one of the struggles I am facing. I want to be doing something with my life.. and now everything just got postponed another 12-18 weeks. Ugh. 

I have an amazing family, and incredible friends. But sometimes it is difficult because I feel like nobody REALLY knows how I feel. In my world of constant support, oddly I feel alone. I think that comes with the territory, but it doesn't make it any less painful.  

Well this post feels depressing. That is just how I feel this week though. Even on a week like this I am reminded of a lesson I learned when I was learning how to drive. It was my first time driving on State Street and I was scared out of my mind. I had never turned on a "double left" before, and there I was. Waiting to turn. Worst part? I was at the front of the line! Great. Everyone expected me to know what I was doing. I realized that I had two options at that point.. drive forward and see what happens, or get out of the car and run. Either press on, or give up. I have come to that same fork in the road (no pun intended) many times in my life. Here I am again. On the days when I can't chew because of mouth sores, can't breathe because I walked up the stairs, cry for no reason, or just plain want to give up... I don't. Maybe that is because I don't really know what it would mean to give up.. but either way, I just keep moving forward. Yeah it sucks, but hey life sucks sometimes. Even when it seems unbearable, just keep pushing forward. Amidst the clouds, the sun will shine again.

(Photo taken on an adventure with one of my best friends, Christ Sheets)

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all.

P.S. I am really missing my AZ girl squad right about now.