Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Game Changer!!

Yes I know. I understand that in the "blogging world" you just don't post two days in a row. I can use the excuse that I am a beginner at all of this? Or if I really wanted to I could just blame it on having cancer? It doesn't make any sense, but I learned that you can pretty much blame anything on cancer. 

The real reason for this second post so soon is to update everyone on what has changed. In the "cancer industry" you have to be really flexible! I am learning that lesson quick. Just when you think you know what to expect... you don't. That being said, I have some news.. I will not be getting surgery on April 6th! My Doctor called me this morning to let me know.

Man he used a lot of medical terms. I just kept saying "yeah" like I knew what he was talking about. Basically it was a different kind of Sarcoma tumor than he thought? It is a PNEP Sarcoma. He said that this (really rare) type of sarcoma responds very well to... chemo. Ouch. That escalated quickly! I mean that really got out of hand fast. The several month long treatment is supposed to reduce the size of that soccer ball I have inside of me. Which will make the surgery a lot less complicated. That is good! But the whole chemo thing isn't the best. 

There is the update. Now that I have your attention I can also say THANK YOU. I spent a lot of yesterday with teary eyes. I could not believe the love and support that everyone was sending my way. Texts, posts, prayers, thoughts, etc. It just means so much to me. I am so grateful for you all. Ethan Prete brought a scripture to my attention at the beginning of all this that really sums up how I feel: 

"Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands" (D&C 121:9)

Thank you again. You will never know how much all of it means to me.

Well! Chemotherapy here we come! Yay! I figure if I make it sound like a party, maybe it will be a little better? I think I am going to wear party hats during the treatment or something. Maybe get some confetti? Oh guess what? I was actually excited to have this surgery on Monday. For a really dumb reason... Hahaha! The day before surgery you have to be on a strict liquid diet, and drink lots of ex-lax stuff. You know what Sunday is? Easter!!! I was excited to be able to say "I have had diarrheas all easters". If you don't get that... go watch Nacho Libre. :)

To wrap it up... I am scared. I am worried because I don't really know what to expect. I have cried several times today for different reasons. I just got done crying in my kitchen with a great family friend who came to show her love. Wow.  The really awesome thing about this is that I have a lot of peace. I have had some good long talks with God about all of this, and He has helped me out a lot. Man He really does love His children! God and I are gonna make a bomb-awesome team throughout all of this. I don't think trials and hard times mean that He isn't there, but I think we have adversity so we can see how much He wants to be in our life. 

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, March 30, 2015

The Monster Inside Me

Well I don't know how else to put this... I have cancer. Surprised? Join the club. It has been a crazy journey getting to this point, and I figured I might as well write all about it! Beware.. this first entry is going to be a little long. There is a lot to catch you up on!! Grab some popcorn? 

Lets starts in the beginning (well as far as I know, this was the beginning..). I think I was in 9th grade, and I started to notice some pain in my left side. Of course I complained about it. I am a complainer. I was convinced I had kidney stones and that I needed to see the doctor. So my dad and I went to get it checked out! The doctor asked me some questions, and came to this conclusion... "Sean, you must be chewing too much gum" he continued with, "The extra air flow is causing irritation down there". I am sure he used more medical terminology, but I can't remember it. Anyway, my dad and I looked at each other thinking something along the lines of "Uhh.. is he serious?". So that was that. I walked out of the office with a resolve to chew less gum. How could I be such a gum chewing fool in the first place?

Well guess what? I chewed less gum, and the pain was still there. I mean it wasn't anything severe! It would be painful for a week or so and then go away for a couple months. I scoffed at the gum idea, and went back to chewing it whenever I wanted to. It was quite liberating. I mean who would have thought the gum hypothesis was false? ;) The pain has come and gone for years. I am 20 years old now, and far removed from 9th grade. I have had to just deal with this pain for a while.

Fast forward to my life in New York City! I served a two year mission for my church in that beautiful city. I remember this past December having a horrible experience. I was spending the day in Jamaica, Queens (where stories are born). I had SEVERE pain in my left side. This time I was positive I had kidney stones. I could hardly move. Coughing hurt, and don't even get me started about trying to run after a bus. It was painful. I talked to a nurse about my condition... luckily he didn't mention anything about gum (we couldn't chew it as a missionaries anyways). He said that I probably pulled a muscle and to call him back if the pain didn't go away. I gave it a few days, and guess what? The pain subsided. I was with other missionaries when I tried to prove to them I had a lump just underneath my left ribcage. They didn't buy it... So I shut up about it. 

I finished my two year mission in February! Yay! I made it. I was spending time with my favorite people, and I was trying to get back into the swing of things. Then one day I started pooping blood. Maybe I should have put a disclaimer before that? Oh well. Haha! I was a little worried. That isn't exactly normal. I made an appointment to see the doctor! I hadn't had a great history with these so called medical professionals, but I figured we would give it another shot. He gave me some great insights.. "I don't really know whats wrong". I chuckled. What else should I expect? LUCKILY I got a TB test that day. Which required me to go back to that doctor a few days later. 

Before I went back to get my test read, I noticed something. I had lost a significant amount of weight in the past two weeks. It was something like 14-15 pounds. I was pretty proud of myself. I was getting in the shower one day when I noticed an abnormal lump below my left ribcage! I mean I had been working out, but I didn't think that could have been a muscle... So I was a little freaked out. I showed my doctor again that same day. You will never guess what he said... "I don't really know what that is? Maybe a lipoma?" (Which by the way I had just learned about lipomas from my lovely friend Amanda). Anyway! He did the right thing. Referred me to get a CT Scan. Well isn't this getting exciting?

I show up to get my CT scan. They had some good news! "Sean, you get to drink a smoothie this morning". Well I got a little giddy. I love smoothies. I was hoping for a strawberry/banana. It turns out they have a sick sense of humor at the hospital.. at 8 in the morning. It was really just this stuff that made my insides light up on the CT scan. I was fooled! I was thinking that at least I didn't have to get injected with anything. At least until I walked into the room an hour later (after the "smoothie" had been downed). Apparently they saw it fit to give me a double dose! My insides looked like Christmas. Just a side note.. The injection was really weird. It literally felt like icy hot was pouring into my veins... at least I had a hot body for once?

I went home and started to play the waiting game. I wasn't expecting to hear anything very soon, but to my surprise I received a phone call the same day! The medical industry scored a point for that one. My doctor dropped the "c" word on me. He said he didn't know for sure, but I needed to see an oncologist (I guess that is the fancy name for cancer doctor). The appointment was scheduled, and the reality started to trickle in. 

There was only one problem! My appointment wasn't for another two weeks. Ouch. I could be dead by then! (too soon for those kind of jokes?) Whatever. But luckily the doctor called and said I needed to see him sooner than that. I was to go in on Friday! Two days, in stead of two weeks. 

Well my parents and my friend Amanda loaded up in the car on Friday morning! We didn't know what to expect, but we were anxious to find out. I met with the doctor. Great guy. We are closer than you think.. let me explain. He asked me to strip down (after the others left the room). He wanted to do a check up, and he started to feel around. Okay this time I am going to put a disclaimer. Don't read this paragraph if you can't handle it... But now I have your attention, so who is gonna skip over it? He tells me to pull down my pants, and does some more investigating. I am just laughing  because I don't know what else to do? Then he brings up the whole rectal bleeding experience and says he is going to have to check that out.. I won't go into detail, but lets just say I was in a fetal position and I was violated. I will never be the same. 

I got dressed and moved into the next room! Then he confirmed what we were all thinking. I have a HUGE cancerous tumor inside of me. Like really big. The size of a soccer ball. It has been growing for a few years, and it is called a sarcoma? It is a really rare form of cancer. He didn't know if the cancer had spread anywhere else, but we scheduled a surgery immediately. He said it would be pretty complicated because it is displacing/affecting so many other organs. My kidney looked like a little shrimp. I will probably lose my kidney, my spleen, and he will have to shave down two ribs and my pancreas! Oh and the tumor broke through the muscle wall, so he will have to reconstruct all of that. 

After the very uncomfortable biopsy experience, we left. 

We went to my cancer lunch at the cheesecake factory. Yum. At this point the reality hadn't set in quite yet. I was still trying to wrap my head around it. I texted my close friends saying "It is cancerous". As I read the text back to myself, even I couldn't believe it?!

Well since then I have had a mix of emotions. I have been happy (maybe oblivious), and sad. I have been calm at times.. and I have also freaked out. I would say I have a panic attack about once a day. Once I feel the pain in my side and realize that there is something inside of me trying to kill me... that usually does the trick. I would say overall I am doing pretty good! I still love life. I still find things to be grateful for every single day. I think the most important thing is that I am not mad at God. I promised myself when I was little that I would never ask God "Why". I try to just ask "What". What can I learn from this? What can I do to help make it through this? I am trying to keep that same habit a midst this cancer ordeal. I still love God, and I still love life. I am not even mad at that doctor who called me a "gum chewing fool". 

The coolest part about having cancer? The support I have seen from everyone. I have been blessed to be surrounded by awesome family and friends. The love and support from them means more to me than they will ever know. I have cried over more than a few texts that I have received. People are just awesome. 

Phew! If you are still reading this, you made it through the first entry! Congrats. 

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.