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My Crazy Adventure
I was born on October 29, 1993 in East San Jose, CA. When I was thirteen years old right after 8th grade year was over, I began playing baseball again. I have been playing baseball since I was eight for Eastridge Little League and was playing for the Mariners that year. Baseball is my favorite sport that I love to play. I played 1st base, 3rd base, pitcher, and sometimes outfield. But one day, I came home from practice and my left arm was really sore, so I was thinking, “it’s just the beginning of the baseball season and it’s probably just because I wasn’t use to playing baseball for awhile.” But about a week or two later, my arm still felt really sore and I was not able to lift it up all the way for some reason. So I told my mom that my arm wasn’t feeling right, but she thought it was from baseball too. A week later at one of my games I hurt my arm. It was the 4th inning with two outs, I dove for the ball and landed on my arm after I caught it. My arm began to really hurt, but I didn’t tell anyone. From that day on, my arm was hurting a lot, and my family began noticing my arm was getting a lump by my shoulder and it was getting bigger. I began to worry what could be wrong with my arm?
My mom took me to see my doctor, Dr. Rothbach, at San Jose Medical Center. I told him that my arm had been hurting, I was not able to raise it, and that I fell on it. Without taking x-rays he “assumed” it was a pulled muscle. The doctor sent me to physical therapy “assuming” it was a pulled muscle so going to physical therapy would help heal my arm. My therapist name was Bernadette Fernandez. I went to physical therapy at Calaveras Physical Therapy every Tuesday and Thursday. Physical therapy was so painful the first day that I did not want to do it anymore, but I had to. A couple weeks passed and my arm still was not getting better. We went back to Dr. Rothbach and he finally took x-rays of my arm. He said the humorous, which is the upper par of my arm that the bone is thinning. He said it is a possible chance that it could be cancer and that really scared my family and me.
Dr. Rothbach assigned me to a specialist in San Francisco. He is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Dr. O’Donnell. Dr. O’Donnell had me take more x-rays, a CAT scan, a bone scan, and a MRI. After, to confirm that it was cancer I had to get a biopsy on my arm. On August 15, 2007 I was waiting to get my first surgery at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco. I was so nervous and scared, I began to tear up. But knowing my family and friends were there to support me, I knew I could do it. By the time I knew it I was deep asleep and the surgery was over. Then my mom, my dad, and I heard news that would change my life forever. Dr. O’Donnell told us that the biopsy confirmed that I had cancer. It was called E-wings Sarcoma Cancer, which is a bone cancer. My parents and I were in shock and I did not know what to do. My mom burst into tears, my dad was in frustration, and I did not knowing what to do. Dr. O’Donnell said that I had to do about 6-8 months of chemotherapy and probably a surgery. I had to stay strong but I did not know what chemotherapy was or what cancer really was for that matter. At first I thought, “Okay, this will be easy just do chemotherapy and the cancers gone.” But was I wrong, chemotherapy was terrible!
On August 24, 2007 I had a port imported into my chest. A port is like a rubber tube that they put in my chest so they can put the needle through to transfer the fluids, the blood, and the chemotherapy. That same day, I started my first chemotherapy session. The chemotherapy names were VP-16, Ifosomide, Cytoxan, and Adriamycan. I got Cytoxan and Adriamycan that day. Chemotherapy schedule was pretty simple, I would go to the University of California San Francisco Children’s Hospital (UCSF) for chemotherapy and I would go for two days then go home for two weeks. Then go back for five days then go home for two weeks, and that process repeats. I really hated the five days. Now let me tell you about chemotherapy. Chemotherapy made every single inch of hair on me fall off, made me sick, made me nauseas, made me weak, lowered my immune system, and just made me feel bad overall. I remember the first five-day chemotherapy session I threw up. I hated it so much! I felt like chemotherapy was killing me softly, but all I can do is hope for the best and the rest was up to God.
Luckily, my main nurse practitioner for children’s cancer and blood disease, Cindy, and Dr. Ward, a clinical fellow pediatric oncologist/hematologist, and they were there to help me. They always checked up on me to see if everything’s going good and how I am doing. Especially, my mom was there to help me every step of the way. She went to every chemotherapy session with me whether it was the two days or the five days. She woke up every two hours with me to go to the bathroom because the chemotherapy is not to stay in my body for too long. My mom gave me all the support, love, and everything I wanted. She cheered me up when I was down and made me laugh when I was sad. I really, really appreciated everything she did for me, even though I didn’t show her I cared or appreciated it. I thank her and I love her for what she’s done for me, I really do. Also, I do thank my family and friends a lot to for support.
Throughout this experience, I wasn’t able to really go outside, hang with friends and family, or enjoy life like a teenager should because if I got sick or got a virus I could’ve died. But I was able to hang out with my friends Angelina, Ian, Julie, Marcos, and Daniel once. It was fun and good to take a break and get away from everything. I was also able to hang out with my cousins Alyssa, Gabriel, Ray, Adam, and Destiny, and that was fun too. Since I had cancer, I was home schooled for my freshman year in high school. Ms. Sims and Mr. Ferguson were my teachers and they do teach at Overfelt today. At first, I felt embarrassed about them seeing me bald and stuff, but overtime I began to get use to it. Also during this time, we started having many money problems because of all my hospital bills because the insurance covered most of it but not all of it. We are still paying off bills today. At the time, I was blaming myself for all the problems. I thought everything was blaming on me but my family told me, “ no ones blaming anything on you, you didn’t ask for cancer.” So that did make me feel a little better. In fact, I think having cancer made my family closer. We began hanging out a lot, watching movies together, and doing many other things as a family more.
A month or two passed, now I’m going into major surgery. Dr. O’Donnell and a plastic surgeon, Dr. Young, are going to remove the humorous from my arm take out the backbone of my leg called the fibula, and put the fibula in my arm. The thought of that scared me so much! Dr. O’Donnell told me that after the surgery I probably wouldn’t be able to use my arm the same way ever again. That worried me because thinking about not being able to play sports or do anything physical really sucks! But, I had to do what I had to do. On December 10, 2007 at UCSF was the surgery. I was so scared that I started crying my eyes out not knowing what was going to happen, and for the first time ever I was scared out of my mind. By the time I knew it I was asleep and went into surgery at 1:45pm and came out at 9:30pm. It was quite a long surgery but the doctors said it went better than they expected. After that it was all kind of a blur, but after a day or two passed I was still in the hospital and was going to be in the hospital for a week or two. It was hard being in the hospital that long and getting up to walk, even though I was in so much pain!
After a week or two, I was able to go home and luckily before Christmas came. I had a fibula in my arm along with a titanium plate and eight screws. But, about a week later, I broke my arm and the titanium plate and I don’t know how. So we went to see Dr. O’Donnell again and he said I’m the only person to ever break a titanium plate that’s in the arm. So, on January 7, 2008 I had to get a surgery to fix it. It was from 11:00am to 2:00pm at UCSF. He put in two titanium plates with sixteen screws in my arm and called it the Larry Special since I’m the only one to have had to put two titanium plates and sixteen screws in my arm.
Even after I was healing from those surgeries I had to get chemotherapy after to make sure the cancer was gone for sure. I felt like giving up because it felt like taking forever. Also along the way, I had so many nurses that I couldn’t keep count, but my favorite nurse was Robin. She was really cool and she would always try and get me as her patient. She always checked to see if I was okay. But as time kept passing on by, on April 28, 2008 was my last chemotherapy session and I was really happy that I felt like getting up and running out the hospital. All the nurses made a poster for me saying congratulations! On May 16, 2008 I went to get x-rays and stuff to make sure the cancers gone and it was. I’m cancer free and I was so happy and relieved! On May 22, 2008 I got my port removed. Now I have a scar on my leg, on my arm, and on my chest. I went to physical therapy after to my new therapist, Maureen Wensky, but my arm wasn’t going to be the way it was before so I stopped doing physical therapy.
Now I go for check-ups every three months and everything’s been good and I’m still cancer free. But for some reason, I always feel nervous because maybe it came back or maybe it didn’t, but I shouldn’t worry. I’m not able to lift my arm all the way up yet still or can use it as good but I don’t let that get in the way of living my life. I learned to just live with it.
This whole cancer experience really opened my eyes to everything. It really taught me to appreciate life. It taught me so much, I gone from knowing nothing about cancer to know practically everything about cancer. I saw little babies in the hospital with cancer rolling around in carts, not knowing what’s happening or what’s wrong with them. They are wearing little sunglasses and haven’t even lived life yet having to get chemotherapy not being able to do anything about it. That’s something I always think about and it’s very sad. People are always asking me, “How do you get cancer?” This is what I tell them, “Cancer works in mysterious ways. Everyone has a cancer cell and it just chooses when to come out, it can come out today or maybe even tomorrow. Or what your exposed to can trigger that cell to come out. Cancer is no joke and it’s something you will never want to get.” Cancer has opened many careers to me as well. Maybe when I grow up I can be a pediatrician, a cancer specialist, or maybe a cancer surgeon; there are so many choices out there. Now, I need to live life to the fullest and do what I got to do.
I am a cancer survivor, I am strong, and I will never forget this crazy adventure of a lifetime.