It has been more than seven years since that fateful day when I was told I had cancer. Yet I remember it oh so clearly. How I was pushed in a wheelchair from your regular general physician to an oncologist. How my parents went in alone to receive the news first. And how I found out from their reaction. A day I hope to never forget, not because of the pain that I felt but because of the lessons I learnt throughout the en-devour.
A few months prior I was in my home country, a country too small to mention, going to school and living a normal teenager life. I had a consistent high fever, nothing I could not handle. Took some pills after going to multiple doctors. Did not get better. Couple weeks in, my left arm was paralyzed and I started to lose consciousness. Things were getting serious. After flying out of the country for what felt like hundreds of tests and a surgery, here I was sitting in a wheelchair listening to an oncologist tell me and my parents what I had.
At that moment I did not understand much of what the doctor was explaining to me and my parents. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, stage 4. My mind was numb from all the information that was being explained to me, not because the doctor was bad but due to the shock and weight of the news. I remember taking a quick look at my parents faces to see how they were handling it. My Dad trying his best not to start crying again, my mother focused on what must be done to make me better. I know it sounds corny and how a lot of your stereotypical cancer movies always show stuff like this but maybe its because a huge portion of people experience it?
Though my doctor had stated to me several times how my odds of survival were high even after taking into consideration I was already at stage 4 ( worst case when cancer spreads to other areas of the body ) I knew then and there that I had to come to terms with death. People go their whole lives not having to think about situations like this and here I am, a mere fifteen year old thinking about how he was about to die.
I spent more than seven months abroad a country in which the only people I knew were my parents and my doctors and the only places I went were my room and the hospital, where I was treated with chemotherapy every other week. Most of the time was spent reflecting about the life I had lived up to that point and how life would continue even if I were to stop existing, not the most fun thing to do so I would also play a plethora of games to pass the time and to not think too much about my predicament but I could not escape from it even in games.
There was this one game I remember so clearly. I had only played it a few weeks and was not very good. It was an online multiplayer team based game and my team of random people had just lost. One person in chat shouts “I hope you all die of cancer”. I know that it is too much to expect everyone on the internet (and even the world) to be kind to you and complaining about trivial stuff such as this would ultimately yield nothing positive yet I wonder, what makes a person say such a thing. Do they not understand the physical and emotional pain the person and his/her loved ones go through? The sacrifices that have to be made in order to have a chance at a getting better? I would not wish this fate even to my worst of enemies. Yet I wonder why they do.
Weeks and months flew by quickly after I was left with nothing else to do. Most of my days would be spent in silence in deep thoughts, taking my medicine, and trying my best to not look like shit. The most exciting things to happen during those months would be the occasional calls I would get from friends back home or the results from tests showing positive outcome from the therapies. I will not bore you with the details of how rough chemotherapy is. It is one of the few things I am glad to have forgotten the details of through the years.
Fast-forward to my last chemotherapy, as if my story did not already look like your average cancer movie, I started to get complications in my health.My heartbeat became rapid and sporadic and I had started coughing up chunks of blood. Mind you this is the first time in this whole process that I have coughed up any amount of blood. Just when I thought I could go back to living a regular life, I had to be admitted in the ICU (Intense Care Unit). Non of the doctors could figure out what was wrong (or they were not telling me for whatever the reason) which made it that much more nerve racking.
Those few days in the ICU were the worst I have felt ever in my life. Being completely immobile and coughing up blood all over yourself and being aware of all that is happening around you. I could only see my parents once a day, yet I knew they were spending every waking moment right on the other side of the door. Different teams of doctors would visit me everyday and look at how I was doing. They would try to hide it but I knew they were as confused as I was about what was going on. Surprisingly, my conditions stabilized and the doctors just let me go. I was ready to return to my home. My real home.
What I took out of this monumental event in my life is too complicated for me to even try and describe. I had felt a whole range of emotions and gathered a whole new perspective on the world and life itself. I would like to believe that it has made me a better person and that I can now appreciate even the small things in life. I feel like I can empathize with others in their situations better even if I have not experienced it. Knowing that you do not know is the first step in understanding someone who has completely different options to you.
I hope that you have found something meaningful from this experience of a strangers life. I hope that unlike most people on the internet you would practice kindness in knowing that you cannot know what that person is going through. Lastly I hope that you have a wonderful year and a wonderful life, sometimes it is not easy but having a positive attitude towards it goes a long way. Thank you for taking the time to read this turning point my life.