This Is Why - Eric Jones

February 8th, 2018 will forever be one of the darkest days of my life. After weeks of tests and trials to better understand why I couldn’t breathe anymore, a biopsy and its results would be my start to why I hate cancer.

Cancer is only supposed to happen when you’re older in life right? Well that’s what I always thought before finding out that before 30, I had an extremely rare cancer with survival rates even rarer. Finding out you have cancer is surreal. Being called into the doctors on a Friday afternoon never really meant much to me, as an active young man, you don’t think the worst news you’ll hear in a lifetime would be minutes away. Arriving home after finding out I had cancer was devastating. How does one look at their wife and newborn child and not think of the short days you have left to spend with them. I never would have made it through the dark times without my wife and daughter by my side. Our family has grown closer than I could have ever imagined.

Being told you have cancer sucks. Being told you have an extremely rare cancer on a Friday afternoon when oncology offices are closed, REALLY sucks. Leaving the entirety of the weekend to research and read about what you’ve just been diagnosed with. During which time, you come to accept from your findings online that you have only months to live, and overcoming the diagnosis to be near impossible. Trying to be strong for my family was all I could focus on. Being the best husband and father for what I thought was going to only be a short while longer is difficult. How could I pretend I was strong enough for them, when the very thought of being strong for them made my inner strength cower and withdraw. I was 27 years old when I first assembled my will. This is why I hate cancer.

For the next while, I’d be starting my residency at my oncology office and hospital where I’d be receiving Chemotherapy and then some. Movies painted the picture that when receiving chemo, you go check in, receive your chemo then go home. Come to find out, this is the case for a great many warriors going through treatment, but for some of us “lucky” fighters, hospital stays are the only option for your battle. Knowing you are going to receive chemo isn’t pleasant, knowing your chemo is a “newer” treatment regime also sucks. But knowing that one of the chemos you are going to receive is a lethal dose, thus making you stay in the hospital to ensure you take the recovery drug so you don’t die, is by far the worst. This is why I hate cancer.

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Checking into the oncology ward of the hospital was a prison sentence for me. Being forced to create a plan that outlines my wishes in the case I die is something no one’s prepared for. It was ironic that at my hospital room for my first round of chemo (5 nights/6 days) was literally next to the rooms where patients who are on their last bit of life go so their families can come say goodbye. I saw 3 families come and go in my first stay. While receiving chemo, you’re confined to the hospital floor and can only wander around a few select areas. While my wife visited me with my daughter as often as possible, I was left alone, wandering around patients who are dying next to me, all the while feeling worse and worse as the chemo takes effect. I was seeing grief from the loss of loved ones all around me while wondering if this was soon to be my fate. This is why I hate cancer.

I hate cancer for hundreds of other reasons beyond what’s listed above. However, cancer and its battles have become essential to my core and have actually been one of the best things to ever happen to me. My story is a cancer success story. I survived the worst of it and have come out the other side. It’s made me a better person, husband and father. It’s also exposed me to great hurt and sorrow as I see my friends’ cancer stories differ from mine. Cancer has been the worst best thing that has happened to me. It took me looking death in the face to realize a lot in life. Cancer is unforgiving. Cancer is a burden. Cancer is something I now carry with me for the rest of my life. I hate you cancer! Cancer, you may have started the fight, but I’ll finish it. This is why I hate cancer.

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Michael Walsh