Before being diagnosed with cancer, I was just beginning to live. I was going to Spokane Falls Community College and I was going to be playing on the soccer team. I was going to work towards a business degree. I was excited where my life was heading. I started to feel really sick and getting terrible headaches. All I wanted to do was sleep. My mom finally talked me into going to the doctor and they thought that I just had a bad sinus infection. So I started taking some medication and I just remember thinking “Okay good. I will get over this quick and it will all be good.” But a week later I still didn’t feel any better and I started throwing up so my mom talked me into going to the emergency room.
At the ER, they took me for a CT scan to see what was going on. It took a very long time for them to return with the results so I sat there and had a long conversation with my mom about how I wanted to live my life. I was telling my Mom that I wanted to be in a place someday to be able to take care of her so that she never had to worry about money or bills again. My two little brothers, Johnny and Jessiah were there with me too. When the doctor came in, he shut the door. He told me I had a pretty big brain tumor. I said “Really?” He told me I was going to go upstairs to a room and meet with a neurosurgeon as soon as possible. I asked him if I had to do it tonight or if I could go home for a while. He said no and that I needed to probably stay because it was a rather large tumor. My mom broke down crying. I was thinking “I can’t have this right now. What about my mom?” I asked the doctor how long this was going to keep me out of soccer and he said he didn’t know. I didn’t even know what a tumor was and now it was keeping me from doing the thing I loved most – soccer!
When I got up to my room, the visitors started pouring in like crazy. The nurses were so nice because they let my friends come and see me up until almost three in the morning. Two of my best friends, Nathan and Andrew, stayed all night with my mom and me and we talked nearly the whole night. We talked about all of the things we have done together since the ages of 6 and 7. We even filled my mom in on some of the things she didn’t know. My surgery wasn’t scheduled until 3:00 the next afternoon so I had a lot of friends and family in throughout the day. The nurses said I must have set a record with over 60 visitors in just the first few hours I was there and over one hundred visitors overall. When I was waiting in the surgery pre-op room to go back into surgery, even though I had a line of people out the door and down the hall giving me a hug and wishing me the best, I was still waiting for my other best friend to get to the hospital from Seattle. I needed to see him before I went into surgery. Just about two minutes before they came and got me, he came running in and gave me a hug and we did our handshake. Then I knew “It’s all good now. I can do this.” My mom gave me the last hug and kiss and they took me back in for surgery.
After the surgery:
The days following surgery are nothing I can really report on. I know from what everyone tells me that it was the hardest time of their lives. They said that it seemed as if the bad news just wouldn’t stop coming at them. During the surgery, the surgeon came out and reported to my family and friends that I had what was called a Glioblastoma Multiforme – a primary Stage 4 brain tumor. As if that wasn’t hard enough for all of them to take, the prognosis was not good at all with the possibility of me only living a year. They spent days waiting for me to wake up in Intensive Care just to find out that I could hardly remember anyone’s name except those in my very close family. My mom and my best friends never left me the entire seven days I was in the hospital. They tell me that every day the waiting room was packed full of people there to visit me or just to be supportive of my family. After seven days they let me go home with loads of prescriptions to take every day and in two weeks I would start radiation treatments and oral chemotherapy. My mom took me to every single appointment five days a week for six weeks straight. I have continued on oral chemotherapy monthly and another medication to stop blood flow to the tumor called Avastin as well every two weeks. Having cancer has completely changed the way I see life. I am much closer to the lord, to my family, and I know that there is a reason I was given this. I think that God allowed this to happen to me because he wanted me to take a different path then the one I was on and he knew that I could make a change in the lives of others.
One of the biggest impacts on my entire life has been sports. I have played since I was 4 ½ years old when I started soccer and I never looked back. When I was diagnosed with cancer and playing soccer for a local college, having to let that go was probably the hardest thing for me to take. Cancer I can handle – losing my lifeline was a different story. My friends and I have done Hoopfest every year since we were very young and after getting to the championship game many years in a row, we finally took the championship three years ago. But last year I had to sit on the sideline as the honorary coach and watch someone else play in my place. It was a bitter pill to swallow. However, I have fought hard and stayed positive knowing that I can beat this cancer and get back to playing sports again. Even though I can’t quite get back to soccer yet other than practicing here and there, I was released to play basketball again. I got to do Hoopfest once again this year and it made me feel so alive! The same team I’ve always played with got together and it was great! I wake up every day with a new outlook on my life – and the outlook is good! I know it sounds odd but I am grateful that I got this tumor. It made me turn my life around completely and find a new appreciation for life.
I have just recently returned from a trip to Seattle to see a tumor specialist. We found out that I have a new growth on my tumor that is making it necessary for me to go back on chemotherapy and possibly have another surgery in January. I have to travel back and forth to Seattle to see this specialist and it has become a large burden on my family. I would use the money from the Nicki Leach Foundation to make things a little easier on us around here. Christmas is coming and we may not have any gifts under the tree. I would like to change that and help my family. Will you please help me make things a little brighter around here for us all? Thank you so much for all you do. You could never know the extent of how your graciousness touches people’s lives.