When I was 17 I was diagnosed with leukemia, a deadly blood cancer.
This blog is a story of my journey through it all and shows how I've managed to stay happy and healthy to this day.
I'm also a medical student - so I hope my experiences from both sides of the doctor patient relationship can inspire you to be the best person you can be.
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At this stage I was ready. I'd taken a step back from the depression and shock of diagnosis. I'd questioned all my doubts and fears and was now focusing on being as healthy and as happy as possible. The only things I could control.
I'd locked myself up in my room, told my friends and family to meet me after the first round was done. Chemo brings your immunity down to virtually zero. I couldn't afford to even risk getting the sniffles at that point.
My mind was ready for the ordeal. My attitude perfectly tuned towards getting through this thing, as those who've heard or read my story would know.
But I still feeling alone... I still missed my friends.
It was my last year of high school...
Even if I did get through this, who knows if I'd ever get to see them again?
And then one magical evening, on the night of the State of Origin (the Superbowl of Australia for those non-Aussie readers), just before the chemo was about to take effect, my school mates payed me a surprise visit.
It was the best surprise ever.
For someone who's likely only gonna see the faces of doctors, nurses and family for the next 6 months to a year... this was the best gift possible.
For you guys reading this... I hope this highlights the power of just saying "Hi". To someone who's doing it tough, to the odd kid sitting alone at lunch, or to your parents who you haven't called in a few months. Pick up that phone, or open up that tab and message them now.
Because seeing my friends there, getting to act as if nothing was happening... even for a few moments... that made me believe that I would get through this and see them again.
And that's the best gift I've EVER been given.
But they also brought along another gift...
Before the gang left the room after chilling for an hour, Isnad, a good friend, a good man; the boy on the right, turned to me and whispered,
"Check out what's in the bag."
I opened it up.
Lo and behold...
A Playboy Magazine.
We burst into laughter. Typical High school boys.
But then I realised, "Shit! What if mum sees this??"
And then Dad came to the 'rescue'.
"Here, son. I'll hide it for you."
Needless to say... I never saw that magazine again...