My story is all too common. I live with my cancer everyday. I want to tell you about what I have been learning throughout my cancer experience and how it has changed me personally.
In November 2013, I found a lump under my left arm. I soon found out that another lump on my arm, which I had been actively ignoring, was cancer. I underwent radiation and a resection of the tumor and lost my lymph nodes. The cancer soon spread to both of my lungs, which led to two more operations and a challenging date with chemotherapy. After the chemo, the cancer started to reappear in my lungs and my brain. What was originally diagnosed as a sarcoma was now correctly identified as metastatic melanoma.
For the past two years, I have been on an immunotherapy regimen and I am already planning a party to celebrate my last treatment in January 2018.
I am a husband, father, friend, and teacher. I do not shy away from telling my story to anyone who asks. You can say that I live with my cancer story on my sleeve. Almost literally! I have “Every Day I Fight” tattooed on my right forearm to constantly remind me that every day is precious. I raise money and awareness of cancer and have helped raise thousands of dollars for Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. I have also been able to share my story on numerous occasions including at the recent Melanoma Network of Canada’s Kingston Patient Information Session that took place early September.
Most importantly, I have changed as a person. My doctor has spoken of my “new reality”. I am slowly finding out that my “new reality” is my reality for the rest of my life. Therefore, I have decided to fully embrace my change for life. My family is the most important part of my life and my friends have becoming increasingly important as well. Ensuring I am a better husband and father was and is my main priority. I have also changed how I live with a greater commitment towards diet and physical fitness. I have also tried to become more introspective and mindful, practicing yoga and meditation.
There are two ways to look at my last 4 years. I have chosen not to say, “Why me?” In someway I am glad it was me with my support from my family and friends, instead of a person who is not as fortunate to have my support. Instead, I have decided to embrace my “new reality”. It has changed me and hopefully put me on the first step to becoming a better person.