217 days ago, I heard the 3 words “You have Cancer”. I was in total shock, alone in a new country, and utterly terrified. I had just moved to Luxembourg from the United States six weeks prior to hearing those three words. I promised myself after that moment, I would power through, be resilient, and never let it hold me back. 6 nights in the hospital, 1 cycle of BEP chemotherapy, countless ct scans, blood work and follow up appointments later I have & will continue to do just that.
To help cope with everything mentally & being so far away from friends and family, I signed up to run my first marathon in Lisbon a few months after I had my orchiectomy. Training for that marathon during chemotherapy was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was bigger than just me finishing that race. It was about finishing that race for anyone ever affected by the disease and to prove that life still goes on before, during, and after treatment. I finished my first marathon exactly 6 weeks after completing chemotherapy in 3 hours and 50 minutes after training for just 3 months throughout treatment. I was more motivated to finish that race than I have been to do anything in my entire life.
The first thing I did when I was diagnosed was read Stuart Scott’s book Every Day I Fight. I remembered his speech at the ESPYs in 2014, and how motivating it was to watch even before I was diagnosed with cancer. I never had the fortune of meeting him, but after reading his book, I can say with certainty that we have more similarities than just sharing the same first name. I wanted to keep going to the gym, and still train for my marathon throughout chemotherapy, and his words spoke to me as if we were the same person.
Every world cancer day going forward holds a different meaning to me. I’m dedicated to both spreading awareness of the importance of not ignoring early signs & that if you or someone you know does hear those 3 words, there are ways to beat it regardless of the prognosis.
Find something to distract your mind. Sign up for a challenge, workout until you physically can’t, go outside, travel if able, grab a drink with a friend, read a motivational book, push yourself harder and further than you ever knew possible. Most importantly, don’t ever let yourself become merely a cancer patient- persevere, rest when you need to, don’t live in fear of what if, and never end the fight.
To quote Avicii, “One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember.”