Talking to adults about going through chemo and experiencing cancer is easier than trying to talk to kids about it. My challenge has always been to just be another one of the kids, to fit in and not be "that one legged" guy. One of the ways I get around being the cancer victim person is when kids ask me what happened to my leg I tell them my "surfing" story.
One little kid was giving me that look in the grocery store one day, and you can tell they want to ask you what happened to your leg, so I looked at him and said - you know I went on a trip to Hawaii wanting to soak up all that it had to offer. So one thing I wanted to do more than anything was surf so I got to! After about thirty minutes learning on the sand I got to go out in the water. I'm paddling out there, the waves are taking me out, sun is shining, I am up on the "whoosh" factor, I sit up on the board, waiting on the next wave and BAM - shark got me - cut it clean off and that's the truth...
Now let me tell you about the real adult story. Finding out that I had cancer was like eh, whatever, can I go out and play now? That's how I looked at it till the day chemo was introduced to me. I can remember the first night staying at the hospital finding out what cancer really was and what it met. The challenge to live was on - right when I walked in that hospital without me even knowing. Every night got harder and harder, I can remember asking my mom can I stop I don't want to do this anymore and her just saying you have to do this. I think that is when I knew this wasn't going to be easy and no matter how much I cried and begged this was my life and I had to make it my own. But it didn't get any better for me.
My new life was in that hospital bed but when I got to go home oh my god it was the best thing that could ever happen to me. Going home meant I got to see my family, eat REAL food, sleep in my OWN bed but most importantly see my best friend, my brother. I think we all have reasons why we won't give up on certain things in our lives and he was mine. I couldn't show him I was scared and that I was about to give up. After couple months of doing this I was just a numb 12 year old boy I didn't fight anymore to go I was too tired to fight my mom to let me go, but one day after about my second month of having chemo I was told I was going to meet this guy about what he was going to do to my leg. I went into Shriner's Hospital hating everything and anyone because this place was going to take my leg and I kind of liked my leg so I wanted to keep the thing. I hid under my coat when this crazy Dr. K came into my room not knowing he would soon safe my life and forever be a hero in my life. He told me about what was going to happen and went on for about an hour while I was still under that damn coat. I went home that day feeling like the world finally lived off my shoulders.
The day finally came for the new challenge to start learning how to walk it wasn't so much of living anymore because I knew I was here stay and it was going to take a lot more then cancer to put me down. After the surgery it felt normal to have leg like I was supposed to have this. I can remember doing a couple months of PT just thinking when I get that leg I am going to get up and run! But when I got it I couldn't even move. And right there I had a choice either to give up and just go slow and realize I can't walk normal for awhile or give it my all. Well I took my choice not to give up just because some tiny bump like learning how to walk again came along. I didn't have a choice to give up in my eyes it was only to look at the big mountain I was about to climb and to take whatever is thrown my way. And I did I can tell you now I'm at the top of the mountain.
Now 19 living without cancer is a rad thing to me, my goals have change so much over these years. Like running a marathon to going to college but one thing has NEVER changed. That is to help a kid get through what I once went through, I love to hear about foundations like this because I didn't have this when I was younger and I can tell you that you guys are making the biggest difference in the lives you help. And I would like to say thank you.