A Livestrong Mentality

Hello, my name is Kameron and I’m a twelve-year cancer survivor. I was born and raised in Lodi Ca where I currently work and reside. By day I work at a winery, overseeing the production of bottling wine, and at any other moment I can usually be found working on a new song or packing up for an outdoor adventure.

My encounter with cancer happened while I was finishing up my freshman year of high school. In the time between fall and spring, something drastic was happening in my body. I had just completed the football season and was looking forward to playing varsity the upcoming year. In the spring I was in baseball mode, practicing and perfecting my skills pitching and hitting the long ball. As the season progressed, I could feel something was wrong with me. My mind raced to every outcome and I couldn’t confront the truth that this could be cancer. I felt I was in perfect physical shape, but in reality, I was in the early stages of testicular cancer. I kept quiet about the pain and lived in denial for a while — just trying to finish the season. I told myself I would get checked once the school year was over, but even then I’m not sure I believed it. As the days went on, my problems grew, the pain increased and I was petrified of the possible outcome. It all became real when I described my situation to one of my brothers. Fearing the worst, he instantly alerted our parents. Next thing you know, I’m being rushed off to the nearest medical facility for testing.

That day was one of the scariest days I’ve experienced. “You have cancer,” they said to me and all thoughts I had of my future started to disappear. At fifteen, I felt I had my whole life ahead of me. To have my life cut short was not an option. Right from the beginning, my mentality was to fight with all the strength I had.

This first bout with cancer was fairly quick. I waited so long to share with anyone what I was going through — after one surgery I was back to playing in my Parks and Rec baseball league. My team was supportive while I missed time recovering from the surgery. When I returned to play we were able to defend the championship we won the year before. Everything seemed to be going back to the way things were and yet I couldn’t get this thought out of my head that my journey was not over.

Towards the end of the summer, I was privileged to attend a camp for children who have or have had cancer. The camp is owned and ran by the hospital in our regional area and still holds a close place in my heart to this day. Never have I felt more comfortable and accepted as I did there. Something about this camp was magical and that magic was love. Despite this incredible experience, I still felt a little out of place seeing and hearing all other campers’ stories. I kept hearing stories of how cancer is a continuous fight, and so I was not surprised to discover my cancer had come back once again and spread throughout my lungs when I went to get checked after camp.

This second bout with cancer was life and death. The disease came back aggressively and my oncologist team had to act quickly. We prepared for chemotherapy that week and I prepared mentally for the fight of my life.

In an attempt to get rid of this cancer, I had two dosages in my first round of chemo. I went from weighing 175 lbs to 150 lbs in a matter of days. The cancer and chemotherapy drugs destroyed my body as I laid there thinking of distant futures where I’m healthy and older. In that moment, the life I dreamed of was a desire that couldn’t be fulfilled. Days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, soon enough, I was finished with the rounds of chemotherapy, and I was finished with cancer. Having just recovered from a surgery to remove a portion of my left lung, I was ready to take on the world with this second chance at life.

Cancer changed me physically and emotionally. Having this new chance at life, I felt my perception had changed but my desire to live was the same. Some physical changes were tough to face — as I continued to play football and baseball, I quickly learned my body couldn’t handle the same workload. My dream of pursuing sports slowly diminished which caused bouts of depression and PTSD from the chemo. Luckily, I’ve always had music around me. It’s my mood and soundtrack as I make my way through life. What I didn’t know was that music could also be therapeutic. The more I heard uplifting and inspiring music, the more I felt a surge of energy to help release the stirred up emotions I felt inside. I started playing multiple instruments and took the singing I was doing in the shower into covering songs I loved. With this new found passion, I soon had less thoughts and feelings of depression. Instead, I was inspired with a love of life.

Throughout my years as a survivor, I am grateful for everything I’ve been blessed with. My friends and family have been so supportive of my dreams. Around the nine year marker I decided I wanted to create music for people who were struggling to find happiness. Whether their situation was similar to mine or completely different, I wanted to be a light for those to find. I wanted to convey my love of life through musical song. Reaching twelve years now of survivorship, I’ve released my first collection of songs that are all inspirational and uplifting. My hope is to be a voice for those who may not be able to speak out about their experiences. I myself can barely make it through a conversation about cancer without choking up in tears.

My advice for someone who may be going through the same thing would be to keep your spirits up. Look around you for familiar faces and they will help guide you through the hardest of times. Have a strong mind to fight your inner thoughts and above all BELIEVE that you’ll make it out the other side. I didn’t reach out to the Livestrong Foundation but I was given a booklet from a close friend. With that and the support of my family, I was able to navigate through the toughest times I’ve faced. Knowing I wasn’t alone and that there were people like Lance Armstrong who went through it before me was a great help.

Livestrong means many things to me. The logo has become a symbol of HOPE. The color yellow has become synonymous with VICTORY or remembrance of those who’ve passed. Livestrong is a mentality of always FIGHTING and NEVER giving up. It’s become a source of strength and inspiration — just like the music I wish to share with the world. If I can help better one person’s life as they go through a world of chaos and turmoil, then I have succeeded in my second chance at life.

A Livestrong Mentality was originally published in Livestrong Voices on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.