A good friend asked me this not too long ago. This is his question and my response.
Q: "Man that would have been some scary shit when the doctor said you probably had leukemia... How did it make you feel?"
I had an infection, something in the chest, the week before. It was because my white blood cells, in essence my entire immune system, was non-existent. But at the time, I just thought it was something antibiotics would fix.
When it didn't go away, my Aunt and Uncle, who were doctors, told me to get a blood test done.
I can still remember sitting in my backyard, on a reclining chair, stroking my dog's fur when Dad told me the doctor wanted me to go into emergency.
I could feel something was wrong. I'd known something was up for months. My legs would feeling dead only minutes into training sessions, even though I would train 3 hours a day. I'd had 3 or 4 hour-long nosebleeds in the past month or two. I was sleeping thirteen, fourteen, fifteen hours a day.
So I spent as long as I could, sitting in that chair, Bonza curled up beside me.
Then we went into hospital. I was confused, but mostly tired.
The nurse who triaged me seemed very nice... so kind and caring. She kept comforting me as she cannulated me, putting on some numbing cream as she did so, even though another nurse jokingly told her that I wasn't a kid, that I could take the pain...
I remember hearing that nurse in the background say dolefully, "Really? But he's only seventeen..." as I was wheeled away into my room next door.
I read a book named "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" in primary school, about a Japanese girl who had leukemia in the aftermath of Hiroshima, and somehow I remembered 'bone marrow failure' was something that was mentioned in that.
When I saw that written on my chart, I asked dad
"Does that mean luekemia?"
He looked me dead in the eyes, and said, "No."
His eyes were haunted... I now realise that that question made him think about that uncle who had leukemia, and the shit he went through.
The ER doctor came and broke the news that it was exactly that. Leukemia.
My parents were in denial. At first, I took it stoically.
But then I got scared and went into denial too.
I looked at all the other possibilities - some vitamin K deficiency or B12 deficiency... could explain the low blood counts. The nose bleeds - maybe due to air conditioning causing different pressures or something like that. The tiredness? Well... I was going through year 12... wasn't that normal?
The next day I had my biopsy done.
My denial, my hope that it could be anything else, was shattered with those words.
'The good news is you're 17 and you have leukemia. But the bad news is, you're 17 and you have leukemia.'
I got past that though. I realised I had a second way of looking at things. And I'm still here today. Happier and more satisfied than ever.
It felt good writing that."
And it feels good reliving that conversation with my friend too.
Cancer made me realise that that idea applies to everything in life.
You will ALWAYS have a second, more positive, more happy way of looking at ANY problem in life.
And when you can see that different perspective, and live it, you will be happy in life. And I'll live by that for the rest of my life.
It's me, my brain, only I that determines how I feel.
Even in times of pain, even when everything seems to be against you, only you can choose to be happy. And it's only you that makes you feel sad.
And I really hope I can make anyone reading this see that.
You can read more about my story by clicking here.
Read about how I beat depression here.
And click here to see why I think cancer has made me the happiest person I am.
It's made me someone who doesn't worry about what others are thinking about me, something that a lot of people do and don't even realise it.
And if you need any help in getting over some issue, some crisis in life, whether it be medical, emotional or just you not being happy about anything, feel free to contact me, like hundreds of friends family and strangers alike have already done, and I'll try my best.
Either here, where you can even comment anonymously.
Or on my Facebook page.
Or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org