Updated: Oct 2, 2020
(of a disease) very virulent or infectious.
As silly as it may sound, I had no idea what that word meant until January 10th of this year. It's been 5 months (and one day) since I first heard anyone use it in a sentence, and before that ~ I guess I was either just lucky enough to not have a reason for learning it, or needed to pay more attention in biology.
Both are probably true.
When the doctor said that they had found a growth on the lining of my stomach, and he believed it was "malignant," I had a "gut" feeling we might be in for a doozie. Never have I ever been so right.
can·cer ~ /ˈkansər/
a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.
a practice or phenomenon perceived to be evil or destructive and hard to contain or eradicate.
a malignant growth or tumor resulting from the division of abnormal cells.
It's safe to say that living these past 5 months fighting cancer has been, by a longshot, the most challenging, painful, uncertain, and trying experiences I have ever had in my rather short but rather crazy lifetime. On the other side of the very same coin, these past 5 months have included some of the richest moments and memories that I've ever experienced, and I will cherish those forever. Moments that simply would have never unfolded if the circumstances weren't what they are. Sure, there has been plenty of pain endured, some scary moments, some confusion, and a bunch of sadness ~ but even in the most challenging of times, not once have I been alone in this fight. My beautiful wife has been by my side since long before my diagnosis - although we were only dating at the time we got the news - she was right there holding my hand when Dr. O'Brien delivered the earth-shattering blow. From that moment on, she's been nothing short of a warrior and an angel, all in the same stride. My mother came out to Oahu a few days after my diagnosis while my little brother and my Pops waited on our arrival for treatment. She has single-handedly fed me and our entire family day in and day out for the duration of this process. Of course, before treatment, 60% of my stomach was surgically removed, along with the golf ball-sized tumor that had so kindly been fucking up my days for almost a year. That was a whopping 7 days after my diagnosis, and since then it has seemed like a whirlwind of events.
Not too much more than a month after my surgery, Alex and I packed up our things on the island and headed for the West Coast where we are currently staying with the family still, and what a blessing it has been to be here during this time. Not only for the peace and serenity of the nature that surrounds us, but also for the fact that we are very far away from any kind of busy social activity. A perfect place to hide out during a pandemic while you go through chemotherapy. It should most definitely be noted that when I say we packed up on Oahu, I mean our dear brothers Zayd and Tre saved our lives by getting an entire 2 bedroom apartment into a 50 sq ft storage space. People like them are the kind of people that God, the universe, or whatever you may believe in bring into your life as a gift - so you keep them as close to your heart as you can. Their efforts to help us out are one of the many examples of the abundance of love that exists in life. It truly felt like the entire island of Oahu was behind us before we left, and it was never clearer than on our wedding night.
February 18th, 2020 - in the middle of dealing with the move and setting up Alex for a smooth return with the university and her work - we decided to get married. It was the most beautiful night of my life, and I can say that with the most genuine sense of every word in the statement. We made the decision only 3 nights before we wed, and invited our friends the next morning, so maybe 60 hours before the wedding. It seriously felt like everyone we invited, and then some, showed up. Obviously some of the most important people in our lives couldn't make it, which was a bummer, but we knew we wanted to do it ~ and it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. There was love flowing from every person there onto the next, and it was truly a scene that couldn't be replicated if you tried. Not even the best of Hollywood could bring such a story-tale evening to life the way our family did on the island that night at Maui Brewing Company, where Alex and I had met 2 years before - to the exact date. Not to mention my brothers and sisters from Maui Brewing paid for the night, for everyone. Fuckin' awesome.
When we got to California, my sister welcomed us to her home and Alex got the chance to meet some of my best friends during our quick trip. The highlight of the trip: my brother Big Nick who I've known upwards of 20 years put us up on the top floor of the Surf and Sand resort in Laguna Beach. It was possibly the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me, and it was awesome to see two people that I love the most get a chance to connect. Especially in such a crazy time in our lives.
We headed up to Somerset, CA on the first of March, and we've been here ever since. I had my "port" implanted on the 5th of March, and we began chemotherapy on Friday the 13th, because that's how we do shit around here, homie.
Again, I must admit that for a good chunk of the chemo process, I have gotten my ass kicked. In some ways, chemo has been a little easier on me than I anticipated. In other ways, this has been far beyond the reach of any hell I could have ever imagined. There is no preparation for the roller-coaster ride that is chemotherapy. There's really nothing like it, and I hope with every ounce of my existence that none of you ever have to experience it. Some of you will, however, and some of you already have. One thing I have learned is that we all have our own fights, no two of them look the same, and you never know what fight someone is battling. Another thing I've learned - whatever your fight is, you can fucking do it. As long as you are breathing, you can fight. Life is too damn precious not too. There is just too much love out there. A lot of hate and negativity, sure, but far more love. Love, like oxygen, is always available to take in. It is in the air around us, it is in the air within us, and it is in the flow of the breeze around us. It will grow, if you decide to cultivate it. You just have to plant the seeds yourself sometimes.
So here we are, we have one more round to go. Holy shit. It feels like not only has this year lasted for 3 years already, but it has also only lasted 3 weeks. Well, alright...It's been a long year and a doozie so far. We have the Covid-19 pandemic going on, we have a major tipping point in civil rights happening in real time, and to top it all off, the country seems to be in a bit of a panic state...We are fuckin' killing it out here my friends. But in all seriousness, with all of the madness going on in the world, and in my personal life, I really find it more important than ever to enjoy the beauty in life. Love is still very present, and very abundant in this world, regardless of what CNN or FOX News have to say. I am so inspired to learn and to create in the future. I am excited to share, and I am excited to see how the people around me choose to grow in their own ways in that same time.
We still have much work to do; finishing chemotherapy, moving back to Oahu, changing the world one person at a time... But, all things are possible when we let them be. I can do anything, like beat cancer, or change a life. So can you, and if there's anything I can share with my beautiful friends and family, it's the simple idea that you can too. I hope you never have to beat cancer, but I know you can if you had to, just like I will. I know that life is hard, and I know the world can have its moments of straight up darkness, but I also know this; you are the light. I am the light. We just have to be it.
If you're still here, I really appreciate your time and energy reading this update. Drop me a line at email@example.com and let me know how you're doing real quick. What have YOU been up to? I know it's been a while, but you know, chemo stuff makes it hard to produce sometimes..Soon enough, I'll have energy out the wazoo, and you just might be begging to get rid of me. Until then, the fight continues, and I wish you all nothing but the best of happiness and health on your journey.