Has God promised you a tomorrow?
September 20th, 2007 was my 18th birthday. It was the beginning of the Fall of my senior year in high school and my football team was in mid-season. Looking back now, there were many signs and symptoms that something was very wrong; I couldn't even sleep on my stomach anymore because the tumors in my chest were that large. But as a football player, you are never suppose to whine or complain about aches and pains and I figured the aches would eventually subside as they always had in the past. However the pain got worse. I was a wide receiver so I took a lot of hits in my lower back or right in the kidneys which is where a great majority of the cancer was.
Finally, after starting in a football game on September 28th, and feeling progressively worse over the weekend, I decided to see my doctor that Monday morning, October 1, 2007. When my doctor began to take my vital signs, my blood pressure was reading 225/130. A person my age should be somewhere around 120/60. This scared my doctor so he ordered blood work and an X-ray. The x-ray showed a shadow in my chest that looked suspicious to him so he ordered for me to have scans that same day. At the time, I had no clue that it was so serious. I remember just being frustrated that I was going to have to miss a full day of school and therefore, miss football practice. However, later that night, the scan results came in and the doctor told my parents the news.
I can remember it so vividly. My dad with a stone cold look on his face didn't even say a word; he just stared at me and motioned for me to follow him down to the basement. I thought I was in huge trouble and I remember trying to think what I could have possibly done for him to be so angry at me. When we sat down on the couch, my dad looked straight into my eyes and with a choked up voice he said, "Eric, you have cancer."
Now when you are 18 years old and believe you are invincible, the news doesn't really hit you like it would a person who smoked for 30 years. So I didn't start crying, I didn't freak out, instead I just kept thinking it must sound a lot worse than it really is. I kept thinking "I don't feel sick enough to be dying right now."
While my dad was breaking the news to me, my mom was at my doctor's house trying to get all the information she could about what type of cancer it likely is and all of the other questions a mother would want to know right away. When my mom came home and I had already received the news from my dad, I asked what it most likely is and how bad is it. The answer was shuddering; it is most likely lymphoma which is good because it has a high cure rate, but the scans show that the cancer has spread all over your neck, chest, naval area, and both kidneys were 98% full of cancer. When I heard that I became delirious. I cried on my parents shoulders until it hurt. I cried and cried and screamed. Then after about an hour I began to calm down and think about things that no 18 year old kid should have to think about: "What is it like to die?'
I sat on my front porch that night for a long time, my dad next to me, a few close buddies stopping by to sit and cry with me. But it was all in silence because we were all thinking the same thing and that is "How in the hell is this possibly happening?" I sat without a word for a long time. We had to get up at 6:00 in the morning the next day to go to Riley Hospital for a biopsy and more scans. Finally after a long period of silence I looked up at my dad and said, "Well, if someone in this family was going to have to get cancer, I am glad it is me because I know I will be able to handle this. I just don't know if I could handle watching one of you go through it."
And thus began the first long, scary, and confusing night of my treacherous two year battle against cancer.