As a golfer at LBSU, many of my conversations with people are about the game of golf.
Today, however, I want to share a personal story about the biggest challenge in my young life — my battle with cancer.
It all started inconsequentially.
At first, I just had some pain in my left armpit.
I didn’t think much of it and just carried on with life.
But once dead skin was coming off my body, my family and I got a bit concerned.
It got to a point where the pain got pretty unmanageable.
So, we decided to get it checked out.
At first, doctors thought it was just some sort of cyst, and extracting it would solve everything.
Unfortunately, when they did a biopsy, they discovered it was more serious than expected.
At the age of 15, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma.
On top of that, an incredibly rare form of it that’s usually just found in adults. In fact, it was so rare that doctors kept testing and testing because they couldn’t believe it.
But, at the end of the day, I was one of only 20 kids around the world with this type of Lymphoma.
My journey to ‘cancer-free’
It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be diagnosed with cancer.
At first, it’s like a shock goes over you.
How do you react to such news?
For me, I kind of took it in stride, if that makes sense.
Obviously, I understood the seriousness of the situation, but also, I was just 15.
How much do 15-year-olds grasp the severity of something?
My parents took it the hardest.
My mother would sometimes just cry, overwhelmed with the situation her child was in. My Dad bottled his feelings a bit more, but I know when my father is distressed.
He took his worry and channeled it into education.
He constantly asked the doctor questions and learned as much as he could about my condition, where I was in recovery, and the path to being cancer-free.
I’ve never questioned how much my parents cared for me, but going through all this made it abundantly clear.
I’ve been blessed with two parents who love me unconditionally and will do anything to ensure I’m okay.
And in times like these, it’s one of the most assuring feelings in the world.
As far as I was concerned, I think my parents did a phenomenal job shielding me from a lot of the negatives.
Like, was I aware of the severity of it all? Sure!
But for the most part, my parents were the ones that talked with the doctors and relayed information to me.
So, who knows how much they kept from me just not to stress me out.
At the end of the day, it was time to tackle this thing.
It was time to move forward and begin treatment, and I was ready to do what needed to be done to be cancer-free.
That meant doing treatment and spending time at the hospital.
A lot of time.
I’d go in for a full week, take two weeks off, and return again.
I did this for seven months.
Frankly, it was one of the hardest parts about it all. Not just enduring the treatment, but being stuck in a hospital for an entire week. You’re often alone with your thoughts and just, well, bored.
But, this was the hand I was dealt.
Was it fair? No.
Did I like it? No.
But what else could I do? My only path toward healing was to listen to the doctor, have a positive attitude, and take it day by day.
So many of us worry about things far into the future — this upcoming test, this meeting later in the week, this assignment due in a month, et cetera.
We struggle to just be.
In times like these, you have to live in the moment and focus on each task as it comes.
That’s one of the… “silver linings,” if you will, of this situation.
Nothing will ground you more than getting cancer.
It forces you to truly understand what matters, what’s important, what needs to get done, and what can wait.
After seven months of treatment and a few more tests, I survived my battle with cancer.
I was cancer free.
Just like getting cancer, surviving it is hard to describe.
It feels just as surreal.
We did what most people do; we had a party, and I was surrounded by the people I love.
My family and friends.
I wasn’t completely out of the woods, though.
I still needed to do MRIs and bloodwork to make sure the cancer didn’t come back.
The bloodwork only lasted a year. And the MRIs, well, I still have to do one every six months.
But hey, given the alternative, going every six months for an MRI ain’t so bad, right?
Looking back on this event, one that could have ended my life, it’s sort of traumatic and cathartic.
It’s traumatic because, well, it’s a traumatizing thing to experience.
All those hospital visits, everyone worried so much about you; it can be a lot, not just physically but emotionally.
However, it can be cathartic because I feel I’ve become a better person through it all.
I went through so much that it gave me a perspective many people know of but don’t truly understand.
To be grateful for life.
Living each day, one moment at a time, and being in the present and focusing on the task at hand and the task at hand alone.
So, if there is anything I hope someone will take away from reading this, let it be this — be kind, be present, and keep moving forward.
One of the scariest parts of all of this was the possibility of not being able to golf ever again. Radiation treatment could have impacted my shoulder mobility to a point where golfing could have been a thing of the past.
But, fortunately, I was able to dodge that bullet.
With my new-found attitude and appreciation for life, I’m beyond excited for what’s ahead.
I hope my story can bring positivity, motivation, or inspiration to anyone who needs it.
Thank you for reading it.