I was diagnosed on January 3, 2018, following a tumor debulking surgery. The type of cancer I fight is called a soft tissue sarcoma – it is a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor or MPNST. I was 23 years old and was just starting to deal with the thought of being a father – how I would shape my son, how I would provide for him and my (then girlfriend, now fiancee). I was beginning to get myself in shape for police academy testing in the hopes of one day becoming a detective, or quite possibly joining the military to serve my country and be something my son could look up to. Things finally felt like they were coming together for us for the better.
Our life prior to this point felt like a swirl of tragedy. From losing my fiancee’s father to suicide back in 2014 and my own father’s death a year later to pancreatic cancer in late November 2015, it felt like we might finally be catching a break. I was making the most money I ever had, had aspirations to move into a career, and we had just signed a year lease for a decently sized house on a hill in Lake Elsinore. A family home. Something to hopefully raise our son in, and we were ecstatic.
We were looking forward to my son’s baby shower, which was a day or so away. I thought getting everything squared away in the new place must have taken a toll on my back because it was really causing me discomfort. I tried stretching and going to a family friend that is a practicing chiropractor, all to no avail. Then, on the day of my son Gavin’s baby shower, I was having trouble breathing. I was sweating abnormally and the pain was unreal. My family was concerned that I was not looking too good. So after the baby shower, I headed to urgent care. After some pain medication and finally being able to relax, I’m told I have walking pneumonia, something totally fixable. But they still ran more scans. I was then told that they mistook the fluid in my collapsed lung for pneumonia and that it was really caused by a tumor pushing into my right lung. That I might have cancer. That I might have to fight the same monster that just took away my dad, almost a year ago, to the day. That I might not live to see my son be born. That I might not get to start my career, or even get to see my 30’s. All these things went racing through my head in what felt like a split second. It was over before the doctor finished talking about possible treatment options.
Cancer has affected my life, that’s true. But more so, cancer has affected the lives of my entire family. It’s robbed them of a chance at a better life. It kicked them down 150 steps of life’s mountain and try as I might to overcome the damages dealt by this monster, cancer has had a one-up on us this whole fight. The one thing I can say that cancer has given us is the ability to know that if we keep fighting, there’s nothing we as a family cannot overcome.