The Week I Found Out I Had Cancer

Man. it seems like yesterday that I got the news of my diagnosis of a rare form of liver cancer. Hepatic Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma… just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? That basically means I had cancer of the blood vessels inside of my liver. It is incredibly rare and only about 20 people a year gets this specific diagnosis. So holla at your boy for being super rare.

But anyway, I remember the biopsy was a fun experience because I thought I burnt down the hospital when I was on pain meds, and apparently I was just even more wild than I normally am. I don’t remember it all. Five days later I had the follow up appointment, on September 28, 2015. I left my popular culture class early to get to the appointment on time, I wait in the room surrounded by old people, and I thought I didn’t belong there. They call me back into the doctors office and every single diagnosis was going through my head while sitting on the weird paper on the patients table. The doctor comes in and makes a few jokes and I make a few back, then he says the words that will forever change my life.
“We found a rare form of cancer on your liver, so rare we don’t how to treat it. We sent it to MAYO clinic and to U of M and they came back with the same results. I’m sorry.”

Being honest I don’t remember much right after that. I blanked out, I was scared. I remember looking in the mirror and seeing myself and picturing myself without hair due to radiation. I pictured what I would look like in a coffin, I thought I was going to die.

I then looked at my parents to see how they were taking it. For first time in my life I saw pure shock on my dad’s face. I saw my mom break down, and about 20 minutes of not listening to what the doctor is saying, I walk out. I am sitting in my car with my dad and trying to deal with it. I was silent the car ride home as I saw my mom in the car in front of me bawling her eyes out. I remember getting home and wanting to call people close to me to give them the news. They were curious about the diagnosis, it wasn’t like I just called random people telling them I had cancer, that would be wrong…

I called my girlfriend first and talked her through the diagnosis. I remember the pain and shock she had in her voice. I heard silence on the phone, and I couldn’t have imagined what she was feeling. The phone call was brief because I told her I would come over later that night after work.

That’s right, I tried going to work after this whole thing… I made it maybe 10 minutes before I broke down and was told to leave.

I called a few of my close friends and mentors and everyone had their own independent reactions but everyone was so positive. But I still heard pain and fear in their voices. But I couldn’t be mad at them being scared because I was as scared as scared can get. I didn’t want to reveal the news to someone over text so I called everyone who texted me about the results of the biopsy. Each phone call got harder and harder. Hearing the news over and over doesn’t help your self esteem very much.

I would categorize people’s reaction in three general actions.

  1. They are scared and I turn into comforting them.
  2. They are too comforting and it was all fake.
  3. They were just right between funny and serious.

A person who fell in that 3rd category was my friend Bradford. I called him and I heard the shock and fear in his voice, but shortly after I gave him the news He turned it around to being positive. “We can beat this.” “If anyone can be positive through this, it will be you” Just nothing but encouragement, and that is what I want to have anyone do when a loved one goes through something like that. Be encouraging and not overwhelming with questions, because in all honesty the person who got the diagnosis doesn’t have all the answers to the questions yet and it can make the fear worse.

The 28th was a Wednesday, and the next day I had EC (a discipleship program at my church) and I had a decision to make; whether to drop out and focus on me, or stay in the program and continue to grow spiritually.

I chose to stay in it. To me it was the only thing that made sense. For the following week everyone slowly found out and would approach me trying help, but some did and some didn’t. But I appreciated the heart that everyone had, they all had a heart to help and a heart to comfort. That is the most important thing because the heart behind things is way more important than the actions.

I want to leave you all with just two things.

  1. Be courageous, don’t be in fear. It is natural to be scared but do not live in fear.
    1. Joshua 1:9 says to be strong and courageous because God is with you no matter where you go and what you face.
    2. It is amazing how much strength comes out of you when you are faced with a terrible circumstance. Just push yourself to be strong and be bold when things seem the most dim.
  2. Have a heart to get better and to help.
    1. You have to believe in your heart that you will get better. If you don’t believe it, no matter how much other people believe for you, you won’t be better. Make the tough decision to not accept the diagnosis and punch it in the face to win.
    2. Help those who are going through a circumstance that sucks. Who cares how they see it, have the heart to help and opportunities will open up to help them win different ways. Be willing to sacrifice and be willing to do odd things they ask of you. You don’t have to be omnipresent, but just be there when they need  you to be.

Thank you for reading. God is good all the time, be strong, be bold, and you can beat any diagnosis the devil tries to put on you.

 

Harrison.

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