Fuel for the Journey | Cancer Survivor Day

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Sunday was Cancer Survivor Day.

A lot of people ask me - what's it like to have survived from cancer?

Well. What's it like to be human?

Being a cancer survivor is something I don't think about as much as I probably should. After my diagnosis and treatment, life went back to normal, things settled down, I stopped being "sick". The worry was basically over. With everyday life just chugging along, it's hard to believe that I almost wasn't here to experience it.

Cancer shows up out of the blue. Sometimes it's one of those things that you know is coming - genetics, predisposed to specific types. Sometimes, it takes you by surprise and grabs you by the... well, in my case, by the throat. Both of these scenarios are hard to cope with. Both are still unexpected, whether you prepare for it or not. Even if you think it might come, you also might think it's not gonna be you. When you're young like I was, you're invincible, the world is in front of you, you're going to be a dad, and you are healthy as an ox.

Then you go to a doctor's appointment because you're down for the count with mono and he asks you, "How long has that big lump been there?"

I don't generally like going to the doctors.

I don't like going for check ups.

I don't like going for sickness, either.

Needles, man. Needles freak me out.

I guess I feel pretty lucky that I toughed it out that day. I might not be here otherwise. Who's to say?

Nobody can really describe what it's like to have cancer. To go through treatment. To be quarantined when you're puking up your guts from the poison that's supposed to save you. To want human touch so bad, but your body hurts so bad you don't really want to be touched. It really fucking sucks, to be quite honest. But really, it was kind of like a really awful flu... just way, way worse.

I got down to 120-130 pounds during treatment. I was skin and bones, wasting away. I'm six-foot-four, big boned and before I got sick, I weighed about 180 or so. My ass was so bony, I should've invested in a donut to save me from the discomfort of sitting.

Anyway.

I've been in remission for over ten years and it feels like a dream that it happened at all. For some people, surviving cancer is this profound experience that changes them at the molecular level. I guess for me, it still hasn't sunk in yet. I got the cancer cut out, I endured 4 weeks of chemotherapy and 2 weeks of radiation, and then I was alright. For the most part.

I went back to how life was. I ate my favorite foods, I played video games, I got to hang out with my friends and my son again... And that was that.

The realization that I actually beat something life threatening didn't sink in. It still really hasn't. Sometimes when I start to feel bad, I wonder if it's coming back, but.. it hasn't. I know my wife worries, probably more than she should. If I cough too hard or my back hurts too much or I have shooting pains, she worries. But, I'm alright. It's almost like nothing ever happened.

The only thing that really brings the reality home are the two scars on my throat. I barely notice them anymore, but they're there, testament to my survival and reminder of a dark month and a half in my life. I used to hate them and feel really self conscious about them, but I guess if they weren't there, I probably wouldn't be here. Others have had it way worse.

I'm grateful to be alive. I'm happy to have survived. Surviving cancer is no easy fight to win, so when people ask, I usually just tell them I won a knife fight because it's kind of the same thing. Just so happens, cancer was my knife - mine was just sharper.

"Scars are like tattoos with better stories." - Fear Like Us

Authored by Adam Edwards.