You know it doesn’t seem that long ago, to tell you the truth it feels like only yesterday but with a lot less memories.
I actually googled the date of May 14, 2003 and I found a CNN article stating that WHO (World Health Organization), declared Toronto was removed from the cities that are spreading SARS. It said 20 days passed since the last locally acquired case of severe acute respiratory syndrome was isolated in Canada, which meant “the chain of transmission is considered broken”. Toronto was considered the epicentre of the biggest SARS outbreak outside Asia of course. I don’t really remember that news, but I do remember that I was in a hospital that day getting even better news.
I do remember SARS and its effects on the world and the hospital I frequented around that time. I remember my brother was no longer allowed to accompany me and I remember having to wear gowns, gloves, eye protection and even face protection. I was extremely mad, they were extremely hot and uncomfortable, I was also mad that at the same time I was fighting for my life with a weakened immune system, I also had to worry fight to not contract this deadly worldwide disease.
As you can tell….I was one of the lucky ones to survive them both.
See a little over ten years now I had to man up, use every survivor instinct, be brave, keep my chin up and not let weakness or this thing called Cancer get the better of me. In my mind I failed miserably, but others saw differently. Now it is something I will never shake, never forget, and never ever stop thinking about it.
One day, ten years ago that is, I felt something pop through my ribs when I was roofing one day, I thought it was just a pulled muscle from the awkward positions I put myself in for the starters at the edge of the roof but I was wrong in the most unknowingly kind of way. When I went home and stripped down for a shower, there was a lump protruding from my ribs. It didn’t hurt or bother me so I figured I would wait a day or two to see if it would go back in and settle down. I went to my other job as if everything was fine, but after the second day I asked a friend to take a look. He immediately said I should go get it checked out, like that minute.
I went to the clinic (I really didn’t have a regular doctor, I never really needed them much growing up, a few doctor notes for flu was about it), I did see the same doctor the few times that I did go but he pushed on it lightly, asked me a few questions and immediately sent me to get an ultrasound.
After the series of appointments and tests my life was turned upside down. I ended having to endure 5 treatments of chemotherapy to shrink my Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma tumour that took out half of one kidney, the other has taken over and all is well there. It was by far a walk in the park as they hit it with a very aggressive cocktail but I tried to make it seem that way. I hated seeing pain in anyones eyes, worry or fear so I put on a show that I don’t think anyone saw through at the time. I was scared to death, but wasn’t alone.
I was very lucky my brother willingly took time off to stay with me during treatments and to make sure I was alright. He also kept my spirits up whether he knew it or not. I can never thank him enough and hope I never have to repay the favour, ever but if the day came, there would be absolutely no hesitation. We grew up together, lost the closeness for awhile but became best friends again and conquered Cancer together!
The nurses at the Oshawa Lakeridge Cancer Clinic are topnotch as well as the volunteers. I saw Dr.Chang throughout and still see him every year. He is by far one of the best doctors I have ever dealt with. Thank you to all of you there as well.
Things have changed a lot from those days, I married the beautiful woman I started dating just before treatment and we have a son, a bun (in the oven), a dog, two cats, a house, bills, hopes and dreams just like everyone else and wouldn’t have it any other way.
I always remember those who weren’t as lucky as me and say each name aloud on the drive home to remember and never forget. I will share my anniversary with them, their families and friends as well as everyone else affected by Cancer.
Hopefully we can knock out Cancer soon and be able to treat it like a common cold so our kids and their kids do not have to endure what we have.
The movie 50/50 and other cancer movies are very hard to watch for a survivor, but tell a story best.