Eight days after my 16th birthday, I was diagnosed with colon cancer.
I knew something was wrong in the summer of 1987 when I found blood in my underwear. My mother later discovered when she was doing laundry. She drove to my school and took me straight to the doctor. The doctor sent us to the hospital right away so they could perform tests.
The news was horrible. The doctors told my parents that even with radiation and chemotherapy I probably wouldn't live until Christmas, three months away. But I had the surgery on Sept. 21 anyway, 12 long hours of it, and me waking in the middle, too! The doctors went in, got the tumor at the end of my colon and couldn't find any of the other expected cancer agents.
After the surgery the doctors took more tests, and these came back with very different results. I didn't need radiation or chemotherapy, my doctors said, because the rest of the cancer had vanished. I was now known as the Miracle Kid!
Because the tumor destroyed the muscle near my rectum I had to have a colostomy, where doctors remove some of your colon and create an opening in your abdomen, from which you drain your stool.
Because of this, my only real concern after surgery was if I would ever find a woman who would love me with this condition and who would also want children with me. Over the years I've discovered some women care and others don't.
My advice to everyone is to please take better care of yourself. Not just by eating right or avoiding smoking, but by going to your doctor on a regular basis. Going regularly gives you time to discover early if there's something wrong so your doctor can help before it becomes a serious problem, as it did in my case.
I recently went to the doctor who performed my surgery -- after not seeing him for many years -- and got myself checked, just to be on the safe side. He ran some tests, with the results that my health is perfect! I have nothing to worry about, but I know I must keep going back for those check-ups.
I told my doctor that after he retires he has to find me a doctor I can trust as much as I trust him! I just want to finish this story by saying, thanks, Doc, for everything. For giving me the chance to experience life.
I owe you more than you will ever know.