One year ago a simple umbilical hernia saved my life. During a routine surgery to repair it, a strange mucous was found that turned out to be cancerous. After an appendectomy and visits to several oncologists, I was diagnosed with Appendix Cancer or more specifically Mucinous Adenocarcinoma of the Appendix. Basically this is a mucous based cancer that started in my appendix and spread throughout my abdomen. The only true treatment is what is fondly referred to as the “Mother of All Surgeries” or MOAS for short in Appendix Cancer circles. Not that there are many of us. This is definitely one of the rare cancers. The surgery involved cutting open my abdomen top to bottom, then scraping all the cancer cells off of my internal organs and finish by applying heated chemotherapy directly into my abdominal cavity. The surgery lasted 9 hours and I stayed in the hospital for a week. It was intense to say the least.
In the months since the surgery, I have gone through several rounds of systemic chemo therapy to make sure all cancer is gone while trying to recover physically and emotionally from the whole experience. Landing back in the hospital twice due to bloods in my left leg did not help. The movie montages never show the setbacks.
To help deal with all this I took the plunge and went from being a lifetime omnivore to being a vegan. Actually a lot easier than you would think and it is one thing during this mess that I can actually control I also started talking about my experience very openly to anyone that would listen and I started sharing my fears and pain with my wife. With everything out in the open it was much easier to deal with my problems and move past them.
In the past few months I’ve slowly been able to move past this disease and continue to live my life. I’m able to work full time again and my wife and I are thinking about starting a family soon.
In addition to work and family, I’m also back to climbing. Being active and getting outside was a huge part of my life before my procedure and I am very excited that it will continue to be part of my life. My wife always jokes that I am a miserable couch potato. I’m not a very strong climber right now and I don’t have the physical endurance that I once had, but I look forward to the process of getting it back. Hopefully I’ll even be ready to do the big walls in Rocky Mountain National Park this summer.
One thing that shines through this experience is to treasure every moment you have because even the mundane can be something special if you have the right attitude. I treasure every day outside, every evening with my wife, every cool project that I get at work, and every night out with friends.
Cancer changes lives forever. It is a brutal disease that takes everything and strips us down to nothing, but it doesn’t have to be all bad. We can recover and start life again with a new appreciation for every day that we’re given. I look forward to making the most of everyday now that I’ve got a second chance.
Most people have been affected by cancer in one way or another. Whether it’s through a family or friend, or even a personal battle. Share your story here and let others know they’re not alone in the climb against cancer.Share