Living With Cancer

I am a 16-year-old from NJ and this is my story:

Sometime in August of 2009, my body began to itch like crazy. After a few weeks of this, my mom and I contacted my pediatrician. She told us that I was probably allergic to the type of soap or laundry detergent we were using. She recommended that I switch to Aveeno body wash and lotion. I continued this for five months, but still the itching persisted increasing with intensity over time. It got to the point where I was scratching my skin raw, especially on my feet. I would scratch them so much that it hurt to wear socks and shoes.

Then around Thanksgiving, I developed a cough and persistent headaches. Now, I associated this with a sinus infection because I have been prone to them in the past; I even have had surgery to try and resolve this problem. I went to my pediatrician and she put me an antibiotic for the sinus infection, but this did not give me any relief from the cough and headaches. We then went to my ENT and he put me on a stronger antibiotic for the same thing, a sinus infection. Once again, no relief. He then ordered a Sinus Cat-Scan to see what was going on in my sinuses, with the intention that surgery was the next option.

During this same time period, my uncle was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia. Sadly, he passed away form the disease just three weeks from diagnoses, on Christmas Eve 2009. At my uncle's funeral, most of my family who I do not see often said that I did not look good and that I had lost a lot of weight. His passing really scared my mom into thinking that there might be something seriously wrong with me. She had my pediatrician run blood work on me while I was still seeing my ENT. All of these tests came out negative, still no answers. My pediatrician then decided that since I was going for a Sinus Cat-Scan for my ENT, that she would have me get a chest X-Ray just to make sure everything was alright. That was the day that changed my life.

It was Thursday January 7, 2010 and I was in the waiting room awaiting the technician who would perform the Sinus Cat-Scan. I had just had the chest x-ray when my mom's cell phone rang. She went outside to answer it, and my brother and I remained in the waiting room. I had the Cat-Scan done and then was getting ready to go find my mom when she came back inside crying. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that that was my pediatrician calling with the results of the Chest X-Ray. They had found a mass in my chest and it was probably cancerous. Upon hearing the news, my brother immediately began crying. He exclaimed to us, "Is he going to die like Uncle XXXXXX?" Seeing my brother's reaction devastated me.

I also began to cry, not for fear of death, but from the fear of leaving those who I loved and loved me behind. The thought of them having to continue living their lives with the pain of not having me, made me want to puke. I knew that from now on i would have to face some very challenging times, but that my faith in Jesus Christ would keep me strong.

Over the next six days, I went through a variety of tests including a bone marrow aspiration and a biopsy of my lymph nodes. Finally, after five long months, we had answers when these results came in; I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma stage 3B.

My oncologist told me that for treatment i would have to undergo four cycles of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation. He said that I would feel horrible and that my hair would fall out as a result of the chemo. The latter made me freak out. My hair was my life! It always had to be perfect. It took me about a week to comes to terms with this, and then I decided that I had to make sure that I was the one to take my hair, not cancer. First I cut the sides short and gave myself a mohawk. Then after my first cycle of chemo I shaved my head.

At the end of each of my chemo cycles I spiked a fever and earned myself a spot on the Pediatric Oncology floor of the hospital. This along with mouth sores were the worst side effect of the chemo that I experienced. Thank God for that!!

When I went for my half way scans after my second round of chemo, my doctors decided that I was a slow early responder to the chemo. In response to this, they added two more cycles of chemo to the original four I was completing. Of course I was upset at this, but i was convinced that I would rather have them give me more chemo then less and relapse as a result.

During the course of my chemo, I also received six blood transfusions and three platelet transfusions. Now, I do not like the sight of blood, so the blood transfusions were troublesome for me. I had to have the nurses cover up the IV pole with a pillow case and cover me up with blankets so I could not see the blood go down into my PORT. This helped me to get through it.

On May 24, 2010 I completed my last round of chemo! Now I am halfway through my radiation treatment and the end is now in sight. i thank God everyday that he gave me the strength to get through this hard time in my life and that He made my journey bearable.

Throughout my battle with cancer I have learned a lot. Most importantly, I learned to appreciate the important things in life: family, friends, and faith. Now I have always been very religious, but having cancer has reaffirmed my belief that there is a God and He is a benevolent one. I also learned that there are many other children whose journeys are harder than mine. I hope to God that they will be able to get through these hard times and be able to live a long and healthy life.

People all around me ask me that if i could would I choose to not have cancer. My answer to them is always no! My view on this is that for some unknown reason God has given me this disease and that He must have some plan for me. Maybe it is to help others with their battle's with cancer or maybe its to use the data collected from me to help find a cure to pediatric cancers. What ever the reason is only He knows!

Although I am nearing the end of my treatment, I want to continue to stay involved with the Tomorrow Children's Fund. I have been a part of the Tomorrow Children's Fund by representing the patients at some of the events they have had over the last few months. I also am planning on completing my Eagle Scout Project for the benefit of the Tomorrow Children's Fund. I hope to stay active for many years to come, in hopes of helping others with this disease.

I hope that by sharing my story I can help someone else who has been diagnosed with pediatric cancer.





Join the Discussion

This article has 37 comments. Post your own now!

Keli S. said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Your story is amazing and im glad you posted this on here because i love hearing stories of people suriving severly bad situations like these. You're an inspiration :) 

its people like you that are gonna help me get through the things i will need to get through one of these days. my mother has a chain of diseases like Sjogrens Syndrome, Raynaud's Syndrome and many other Auto Immune dieases that are all linked together. im only 14 now and starting to see many symptoms of these in m... (more »)

 
TIM2012 replied...
Dec. 6, 2010 at 10:12 am
thank you! i really hope both you and your mother are doing well. i will keep you both in my prayers =)
 
Keli S. replied...
Dec. 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm
Thank You and Your Welcome :)
 
123pooetryy!! replied...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 3:53 pm
Yeah this was a very interesting post. i have chronic pain in my ankle that began as an injury when i was four and has persisted as disabling throbbing pain for the past nine years. the doctors arent sure what is wrogn and this is a scary time for me as i was diagnosed with raynaud's disease in october of this past year but iv been having symptoms that have increased with severity for years. my pediatrician thought it was linked to JRA, but tested it and the results came back negative. my doctor... (more »)
 
TakeMeAway said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm
this hits me very hard. my little sister was diagnosed with brain cancer, so i know exactly what you mean about chemo
 
TIM2012 replied...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm
i hope that your sister is doing well!!
 
Tim's Mom replied...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I am Tim's mom and I will pray for your sister and your family everyday.  Please do not give up hope, just pray to God, he will not let you down!  God was/is with us everyday especially through Tim Journey!  Tim really never asked why him he just went with it and fought the fight and WON!!!  How ould is your sister and how old are you?  Keep in touch!

A MOM who CARES!!!

 
Monkeypoet1996 said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 5:37 am
omg, sounds so sad, a family friend had cancer so i kinda know how you felt
 
kaykaylabay said...
Sept. 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm
This hits home with me my aunt and grandfather died from cancer in 2006 with in a month of eachother. and my grandmother in 2001. Now my other grandfather has cancer. I'm going to keep you in my prayers and i hope everything works out well. But keep remembering that God loves you and that he must want you to share your story with as many people as possible so that you live as long as possible.
 
CourtneyLou said...
Aug. 1, 2010 at 8:52 pm
That is so awsome that in such a devastating time you can keep your faith and look to God for the strength to see you through it. Your an example to everyone and its amazing that you can use your  story to help other children get through such a hard time in their life. Instead of feeling bad for yourself your taking your own pain and suffering and putting it to great use. The world could use more people like you! Thank You for sharing your story, God Bless and I will kee... (more »)
 
TIM2012 replied...
Aug. 1, 2010 at 9:56 pm
thank you!!
 
Lori Mennella said...
Jul. 30, 2010 at 8:53 pm
Tim, I have been keeping you in my thoughts and prayers since the very begining.  I am so happy to hear that you are feeling better and will keep on fighting.  Your faith has certainly seen you through what I pray will be the worst thing you ever have to endure, sometimes we need the bad to see the good and value it for all it's worth!  Thank you for sharing this with us and thank your Mom for passing it along. Believe in the plan!XO, Mrs. Mennella
 
TIM2012 replied...
Jul. 31, 2010 at 6:04 pm
thank you!!!
 
There Is a God! said...
Jul. 26, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Shame on you for saying there is no God... but if that is what you believe that is fine, but SHAME ON YOU for having that awful screen name!!  This site should have never let you use it yet alone post it!!!Cancer is Cancer and when one is a Survivor

God Bless them!!!!!

 
poetry_addict said...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm
I completely agree with the comment above me. Your courage an strength should be inspirational to us all
 
TIM2012 replied...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 6:52 pm
Thank you!! I really hope that this will help some one else who has to go on this journey!
 
poetry_addict replied...
Jul. 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm
Well I myself do not have cancer, but I found this to be very encouraging just on mention of lifes troubles. Pretty much thaat I worry about things that seem insignifigant with what you an millions of others are going through.
 
jlsustack said...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 8:41 pm

How faithful you are, Tim.  I so much admire your strength and tenacity.   You have been such a fine example to your brother.  God is always with you.  You will be blessed richly.

 

 

 

 
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