How friends, family and faith helped me fight through cancer

I was 23 years old, had just graduated college in May 2015 and landed an amazing job working for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. I was finally about to enter the world as a ‘real’ adult and was ready to start off with a bang!

As soon as I arrived in Wyoming, I got a cold. Nothing serious, just an annoying little sickness. After several weeks I still couldn’t kick the cold and went to the doctor. I was assured it wasn’t anything serious so I went on my way. Months passed without getting better and I began to get short of breath doing simple tasks. I knew something was wrong when I couldn't move a box across the room without stopping to take a breather.

I took two hours off of work one day to see a doctor. I planned to go see the doctor, get some medicine and be on my way. Having mentioned the same cold like symptoms, shortness of breath and constant napping, the doctor decided to perform a chest X-ray. When he came back with the results, I will never forget his and his assistant’s face. Earlier, the two of them were lighthearted and all smiles. Now when they walked into the room, the doctor had on his ‘all business’ face while his assistant looked like he had just seen a ghost. That’s when I knew something was wrong. The doctor informed me that there was a large mass in my chest and was likely cancerous. He told me I needed to seek medical attention from a major medical center and needed to go…now.

“This can’t be happening to me. This only happens to OTHER people,”

What I expected to be a simple appointment turned my world upside down. “This can’t be happening to me. This only happens to OTHER people,” I thought. But that same day, I had to quit my job and pack up all my belonging and start the long drive back to home to Georgia. When I arrived, I was admitted to a hospital in Atlanta where I was later diagnosed with Stage 3a Hodgkins Lymphoma. The tumor was quite large in size and I would need to spend the next several months undergoing chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments.

“I know it is tough and I know that sometimes you don’t want to fight anymore.”

Dealing with cancer was hard, both physically and emotionally. The treatments can take a toll on your body and leave you feeling powerless over your own body. However, through the power of modern medicine and by the grace of God I am able to write to you today! As someone who has been through cancer, I know it is tough and I know that sometimes you don’t want to fight anymore. I encourage you to lean in on friends, family and faith to get you through. Surround yourself with people that love and encourage you and remember that even in your darkest days there is a God who will carry you through.

Kenny — Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor

When Kenny was diagnosed, he reached out to LIVESTRONG’s free cancer navigation service and received support, including help with fertility preservation. If you or someone you know is facing cancer, give us a call: 1–855–220–7777.

How friends, family and faith helped me fight through cancer was originally published in Livestrong Voices on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.