BLUF: Completely out of the blue, suddenly felt like I was dying. Diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in December 2016. After lots of chemo, my fight continues. Planning for the future was suddenly put into perspective.
You got to be kidding me. I won the crap lotto.
- I am relatively young
- I run & go to the gym five days a week, over 15 years
- I eat healthy, mostly organic
- No history of cancer in my family
I knew something was not right in 2014 when I returned from Afghanistan. I had an itchy rash on my leg which would not go away. The rash would randomly move around my body. Numerous visits to dermatology and various medications, nothing was resolving the problem.
Then everything went to hell in November 2016.
- Itchy skin for two years (previously mentioned)
- Immediate hearing loss in one ear (turned to extremely loud ringing)
- Continues to this day
- Loss of balance
- Lost 15 pounds in a month
- Extreme lower back pain
- Drenching night sweats
- Lump on neck
I visited the hospital every other day for tests, until doctors took a core sample of the lump on my neck. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a few days before Christmas in 2016. Shortly after, a PET scan determined I was stage III. The disease was throughout my whole body.
So many emotions, I do not know where to begin. You always hear about this type of thing happening to other people, we always think we are some how different.
It is surreal when you are the statistic.
I have been deployed to combat a bunch of times and experienced some shitty things, but this disease has been by far the worst. Everything else I could reason, cause and effect; however, now my own body was trying to kill me.
It took some time to accept this was my life now.
Most days it does not feel like a fight, it feels more like a test of endurance through a nightmare.
In the last year, I have endured ABVD, BB, and high-dose BEAM (going through now) chemo. I have track lines all over my arms from the countless IVs. Experienced chest surgery. Had a PICC line in my arm which resulted in a blood clot (and now get a blood-thinner shot in the stomach everyday). Had two big lines my neck. Visited the Emergency Room three times.
Then all the side-effects of chemo; hair loss, no taste buds, “chemo-brain”, blisters, tiredness, insomnia, constipation, and diarrhea. I wish the experience of chemo on no one.
And I am about to do a stem cell transplant.
My fight continues.
After mentally regrouping, I reevaluated everything in my life.
I see life a lot simpler now, take things easier, and not get stressed out about most things (because most things do not matter).
I listen to my body more.
Appreciate the little things and remember things can always get worse.
This Is Not Taking Me Down
Financially, I have always been interested in FIRE. Getting diagnosed with cancer reconfirmed all my beliefs of not wanting to work till 65-70 because it could all be over much sooner. Any reservations I had about things ceased.
In the past year, while I was going through continuous chemotherapy I have:
- Continued serving as an active-duty Marine
- With some physical fitness adjustments
- Attended post-graduate school in a foreign country and earned a second masters
- Read and wrote papers on the days I felt decent
- Paid off our first house (currently a rental property)
- Purchased a second house
- Cleared a major financial milestone
- Purchased two vehicles in cash
- Started this website to assist others
Getting sick has stopped me from holding back from anything.
Saving for the future is important, but remember you are living your life now.
None of us are getting out alive so appreciate everything you have, be kind, and live.
Everyone’s journey is different. This is mine and I own it.