Worldwide, cancer is a major source of suffering and fatalities. One must question what is driving this ailment to rear its ugly head among persons under the age of 40, where it is becoming more widespread and common. Medical specialists are perplexed and short on answers as to what is causing it in today’s environment with causes including stress, bad food, genetics, family history, etc. Despite large sums of money and grants going into study, only breakthroughs have been made so far; there are no real solutions.
Since I was diagnosed with cancer, my life has changed in an unexpected way. I’ve learnt a lot, and every day I get stronger.
I learned more about:
No matter how miserable my day was, there was always a way out. There were actually three: my wife Lars, our son Scott, and our brand-new kid Cohen. As I held their faces close to mine, I was moved to hope for a brighter day for us all. This desire became a chant that echoed so deeply within my being that it became automatic as soon as I opened my eyes in the morning to face another day of battle.
The disease struck me at the worst possible time in my career, so I didn’t have much money set aside as a safety net so I could take time off. My manager allowed me to take a leave of absence without pay (I had no remaining holiday pay), but I was still required to find the motivation to continue working because I had obligations to pay.
In order to recover and get enough rest so that I could go back to work on Monday, the chemo sessions would take place on Fridays after my half-day at work. Despite this, I never missed a beat.
When I felt like I couldn’t handle something, my Navy supervisor Moses would tell me to take a break and sit down. At the time, I was working as a contractor alongside Navy people. I firmly feel that being there made a difference and sped up my recovery because of a very calm and stress-free work environment, and I actually felt like I was part of the team. I was shown such love and kindness by all the boys and girls in the department I was assigned to.
When I was working at the Training Services Faculty, a division of the Engineering department, Mark was the department head. Because we both had young families and were familiar with the struggle of working long hours to make ends meet, his friendly smile and encouraging words flowed freely.
I still stay in touch with Mark after all these years because, like Moses, he always made sure I was well taken care of and that his door was always open if I ever wanted to talk.
Then there was Chito, the chief of the health division, who took the time to get to know me and seen me at my most vulnerable—when I swelled and my face took on the appearance of Shrek. No matter how long it took me to climb those steps, I was receiving a lot of positive reinforcement.
Chito once mentioned how much he respected me for being able to grin through my pain and how much he admired me for not giving up during our casual encounters that were followed by Friday morning tea. There was mutual respect.
Bucket (not his real name) was a highly well-liked and respected NCO. His upbeat demeanor was calming, and his laid-back demeanor helped me forget about the ominous clouds hanging over me as another day eked by.
He would regularly bring me a slice of cake, a treat, a newspaper, or a joke. Who said all warrant officers were pipsqueaks? Because of the challenging environments they work in, and because a joke might help them remember happier times, Bucket, a wonderful person, reminded me of the value of laughter.
Everyone on earth is said to be unique, but then there’s Alex. Alex stood out from the crowd because of his superior personality, strong work ethic, and meticulous attention to detail. He was a fascinating individual.
Once I got through his cynical façade, he revealed his warmth and friendliness to me. Even on days when I scarcely made any sense because of my chemo brain, he paid attention to me, which made me feel very important. I never felt alone because he made me feel special. Because he was going through some health challenges as well, I could lean on him and we had many lengthy chats about the benefits of being ill.
The numerous times my wife Lars gave me a cup of coffee when I was lying down in bed after a difficult chemo session, her beauty shined through despite her best efforts to hide the sadness in her eyes from me.
She was aware of my need to escape into video games like “Kane and Lynch Dead Man Walking,” which occupied the majority of my free time and frequently served as a release for my rage and fury at what was happening to me. I was even more determined to get healthy and defeat this hideous and dangerous disease when she entered the room holding Cohen in her arms because she looked so stunning.
David, my direct boss, consistently defended me and kept the wolves at bay. Together with Moses, Mark, and Chito, he stood by me and gave me so much support and inspiration.
In difficult times, loyal people are a rare find, and David was one of them. We shared a love of video games, and our connection grew as we talked frequently about the joys, difficulties, and obligations of parenting. Even though we split up, I will never forget the many thoughtful things he did for me.
My mind would occasionally stray on Fridays as the poison that was killing me was being injected to keep me alive. On Fridays, this procedure took two to three hours, during which time everything came to a stop. All the worry would resemble the shadows cast by the sun while it shone brightly outside.
I had to discover ways to control my need to do something, anything, or everything while I was getting the poison in me since I was unable to do the exact things, I loved the most. If you or someone you know is suffering from this terrible illness, kindly show them patience and forgiveness. Cancer is more than simply a physical illness because of the mental burden it presents as a result of the battle, and since it is so painful, there is a strong likelihood that PTSD will manifest itself in some form.
It has taken me over 5 years to get back to how I used to be; nevertheless, I now feel better in my roles as a parent, husband, son, brother, and friend. In my own case, the steroids made me a very angry and unstable person; as I said, the trip has been long and frequently difficult.