Hello, the name’s James. At the age of 16, I wished to play football as a pro. Training and practicing for hours on a daily until one day, I went for a tackle and missed that to all of my weight compressed on my arm. It was unusual for such pain to occur. Visited the sports trainer and later got admitted to multiple hospitals.
Visit after visit, turns out the arm shattered into multiple pieces. Months later in a cast it healed up and I returned to my normal life. Got an internship at a local social security office. Four weeks into my regular life, I was called in by the doctor. Informed I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Had to leave my normal life and attend the hospital for treatment for a year.
During the time, I never realized the magnitude of the situation.
Pretended like it was nothing as if my life didn’t take a turn for the worst. July 25th, 2018, had no choice but to get the first dosage of chemo. Day 1, felt no side effects until later on. Nausea, confusion, and hopelessness kicked in, gave up on my goal of finishing my senior year and just life itself. Lost my “friends”, lost hope in myself and contemplating whether it was all worth it or not.
Kept my hopes high, living every day as if it was my last because that was the truth during the time.
Fighting and fighting and it seemed like it went nowhere.
October, 5th 2018, I had a major surgery, woke up after an 8 hour surgery with my right humerus replaced with a artificial bone along with my muscles. tendons, and shoulder removed to get rid of the cancer cells. Days and weeks of recovery and I took a different turn in life. Weeks after I had wanted to be a regular teenager and celebrate my 17th birthday, knowing it would mess up my chemo schedule. Conflict with my oncologist due to that and mid way I had requested a different oncologist that’ll understand what I was trying to do. Spent my 17th birthday with my family and various friends.
The joy and freedom I’d experience was something I loved so I had withheld my cancer treatment. Family and doctors were concerned yet saw what I was trying to do and allowed a break. During the month of treatment withheld, hair grew back and I had a “normal” teenager life.
After months of fooling around I returned to complete my treatment on February 28th, 2019.
Going in and out of treatment with a strong support group. Family, friends, hospital staff, were motivating me to do what was best. Three months of treatment pushed through and May 7th, 2019 was the last dosage of chemo. Celebrated with close homies with Taco Bell and a trip to the park to reminisce on life and it’s glory.
It was a long battle but I came out alive, I call it a blessing in disguise.
I came out of treatment with a whole new perspective in life, realization and maturity had kicked in. Caring for others without hopes of getting anything back, realizing which of my buddies were supportive and who were leeching on and using my kindness as a weakness. The journey had its ups and downs but I’m glad I had overcome the situation and used it as a motivation tool rather when a clutch.
Going through multiple job searches to support my family weeks after I was cancer free. Weeks of denial, I got accepted into a fast food restaurant as a crew member.
Keeping my backstory a secret so they’d treat me as another person rather then babying me for being a cancer survivor with a disability.
Months passed and two promotions was given and accepted. Worked by butt off to support my family financially to end up in the hospital again.
September 1st, 2020 was my surgery date. The initial artificial arm was falling out of place and had to get another replacement. Six hours on the operating bed and woke up with an allograft arm. Currently on the recovery stage and doing my best living with it. The pain had all kicked in, physically and emotionally but I couldn’t ask for a better support group. Family, friends, and the best hospital staff had made it easier for recovery.
Now I’m in hopes to get my GED, attend college and get into a career path I’d enjoy. Arts such as photography, videography and my current project podcast creation is my passion and hope to grow from where I am.
For all the ones that’s been informed or going throughout treatment, “It won’t be easy, there will be times you are down in the dumps and contemplating life but just remember, you’re not alone. You’ll always have a support group that wants the best for you. Treatment will make you into a better person, face to face with death is scary and you could fall into it but remember there’s going to be a positive outcome. Fight for your life and you’ll be blessed with a better one.”
All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer. If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you! Please submit your idea at https://www.elephantsandtea.com/contact/submissions/.