Diagnosed November 2014 at 31 years old
This has been, and still is a journey that has taught me so much, even when I haven’t learned the full lessons. I feel proud of what I’ve learned so far:
- Try things instead of being afraid of them like ride a motorcycle, travel far away, love someone
- Appreciate the little joys of life – like to pet my non-human family, swim in the sea, enjoy my morning coffee
- Stress myself less with daily stuff
- Overcome sadness and depression.
Of course, there are things I need to work on, for example, having patience in general, but specially on inaction of other people, manage the fear of the future and the final days…
By the end of December 2013, I went to the hospital due to a seafood allergy. The next 6 next months I had constant stomach discomfort, poor appetite, weight lose and I thought there were some residual effects of the previous allergy. But then I started to vomit bile, that was the first sign for me that something was wrong. One day I was standing in front of a mirror in my bedroom noticing how much weight I had lost and I saw that my stomach was still “fat”. I touched and pushed under my ribs and I felt something there. Next day, we went to the Doctor and she confirmed there was a mass there. She sent me labs, scans and scheduled another date to check the results. The day came and I was working, so my family brought the results to the doctor. I didn´t talk to her. I remember that I was at my job and a Social Worker from my company called me for a private conversation, I entered the room and my parents and brother were there. I already knew it, I just heard the word “oncologist”. But not even one tear came out of my eyes. My family needed to know that I was going to fight no matter what. That was in September 2014.
There’s a lot to tell since then – how I was diagnosed, how I get surgery, how hard it has been to get access to the treatments, it´s difficult in my Country. I’ve even had to sue the IESS (the health state insurance company) to get the medicine. So far, I’ve had 7 major surgeries, the first one was for the main tumor which weighed 5 pounds and sized 17 x 14 x 6 cm – surgery lasted 11 hours! I’m agnostic, but can’t avoid to feel so so lucky to have found the right surgeon, not only because nobody had the courage to resect the tumor, but because probably in Ecuador there wasn’t anyone capable to do it.
I still have metastasis on my lungs and lymph nodes close to the liver. I’ve been on GEMOX, GEMOX + Avastin, Sorafenib, Regorafenib, Pembrolizumab, FOLFOX and currently I’m on Capacetabine + Avastin. I feel awesome… I still have enough energy to do my daily stuff, I´m still working, side effects are mild and almost none, loss of appetite, little tiredness, humor changes; but I still live my life to the fullest.
Since I was diagnosed I never felt that life was being unfair to me. It is just life/nature, it is not good or bad, it just happens. But I must confess that I cried and became very angry when my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. She is the kindest person I know. Once again we had “bad luck”, I thougth, but also we will fight until the last moment. My Mom has finished her treatment and now she has tests every three months, with no sign of disease. She is a strong woman and she is the center of our lives.
And that’s my story, my family and our lives are simple, but we cherish every single day we can spend together.