By: Trevor Cundiff
Now I want to tell you something about myself. As I did not know most of you 16 years ago, but I want to tell you my story and why this time of year means so much to me. 16 Years ago, I got Cancer and it was bad. The cancer I had was not because of family history instead it was a drug induced cancer. I should have gotten the mono virus but the medicine I was taking made my immune system so weak I got cancer instead.
Here is my story,
It was March 2006, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was anticipating June 24, the date of my wedding. Everything was great, life was great & I was on top of the world. I had gone on vacation in mid-March when I first noticed the back pain. I did not think anything of it as I was active in many sports activities including bowling, dodge ball & football, so I wrote it off as a sports injury. Then one morning I woke up to extreme pain & my neck swollen, it was at this moment I knew I had to go to the doctor. I was able to get in to see the doctor that day who told me I needed to get a cat scan to determine where the swelling was coming from. I wanted to get a second opinion, so I went to my oncologist. My oncologist took one look at my neck & immediately set up an appointment to have a biopsy of the swollen lymph nodes. It took two days to get me in & I will never forget the pain I felt. I could not sleep the pain was unbearable. I tried everything I even tried sleeping standing up leaning against the wall. I was finally admitted on a Tuesday for the biopsy of my lymph nodes, it was supposed to be an outpatient surgery, a couple hours max. However, I was so sleep deprived they could not wake me up after the biopsy was complete. It took hours for me to wake up, so they decided to keep me over night. I was released that Thursday and then did not get the results until the next Monday afternoon, April 10th, 2006 to be exact (a day I will never forget for the rest of my life.) That was the worst day of my life, I was 31 years old about to be married & starting the next phase of my life when the doctor told me I had cancer. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Burkett’s Lymphoma, 80% of my bone marrow was cancerous, I had a tumor in one of my lungs & all the lymph nodes in my body were swollen 7 times the normal size. I was admitted into Duke that very same day. So, from mid-March to April 10th, I went from being a normal, healthy man to having Stage 4 cancer. I went through several tests to determine the next step. It took days to get my pain under control. If I waited any longer than I did I might not have been able to beat the cancer and be here today.
I was in Duke for the next 2 weeks receiving my 1st of 7 series of aggressive chemotherapy. Each series of chemo was a 5-day treatment then I was released to go home to rebuild my blood count to get ready for the next treatment. The chemo made me so sick & caused hundreds of open wound sores in my mouth & throat (known as mucositis.) I would have to be admitted into the hospital days after my release because I was unable to eat due to the sores. They would give me fluids intravenously to build my strength back up & also to keep an eye on my blood counts. Within the first month I lost 55 pounds & of course I lost all the hair on my head & body. The only thing that kept me going was my upcoming wedding. The doctors worked with my fiancé & I to insure I would be able to walk down the aisle. We were able to schedule treatments around the wedding. I was released on Wednesday June 21st, married Saturday June 24th then readmitted on Monday June 26th due to dehydration & the returning sores in my mouth & throat. I was not able to enjoy my own wedding & spent my honeymoon on the 9th floor of Duke Hospital. I must admit it was still the best day of my life. I married my beautiful loving wife that stayed with me in the hospital every night & took care of me through this awful cancer. I had planned a beautiful honeymoon in St Lucia but had to cancel due to this dreadful disease. My immune system was so weak it was too risky for me to be anywhere other than Duke.
I continued the treatments until October 2006. After 7 aggressive chemotherapy treatments my cancer was gone. I was out of work for 8 months through this whole ordeal. It was very scary & the most painful thing I have ever gone through. I will never forget those 8 months & it will be in the back of my mind FOREVER. Every ache, every tingle in my back reminds me of what I went through. I am even scared to take medications wondering what it will do to me.
They also told me that I probably would not be able to have kids that the chemo would make me sterile. I beat those odds!! I have 3 beautiful little girls.
CANCER SUCKS and I would not wish this on anyone. Do not take life for granted because you never know what is going to get thrown your way. Live life to the fullest and have fun.
THANK YOU ALL.
And look what 15 years of working out and running did to Lipsync