A Message from Jarem:
Positive. For. Cancer. That is a weird way to be informed of your diagnosis. When you find out you have cancer, it is usually the result of a biopsy and the doctor says something like, “I’m really sorry to inform you that your biopsy results came back positive for cancer.”
I’m 31 years old and unfortunately have heard that news – positive for cancer – several times in the past year. I am currently fighting tongue cancer (oral squamous cell carcinoma) after being initially diagnosed in September of 2015 with a very early stage tumor. We thought we had it beat at the end of 2015 but it came back in a much more aggressive form in November of 2016. In the process of diagnosing the recurrence, we also found out that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in my hip.
I don’t know why diagnostic jargon is what it is, but I actually like the term Positive For Cancer. The details of my battle and treatment plan are in a blog I’ve been writing (www.positiveforcancer.com). I went through a major mouth surgery and am currently doing radiation of the mouth and throat and chemotherapy — the cancer treatment triumvirate. But the most prolific part of my treatment is positivity. The outcome we are hoping for is to be cancer free and to remain that way the rest of my life. My quest is to endure well and to partake of this bitter cup without becoming bitter.
The hardest part of the process for me and my wife has been the uncertainty. How will this eventually be resolved? Will it kill me? When? Will I be cured? When? How can I endure what feels like never-ending “treatment” (the burning and poisoning of radiation and chemo)? What should I do to increase my chances of survival? How do I talk about this with my loved ones?
The key for me to staying positive and optimistic despite so much uncertainty has been to stay present. Keep my mind where my feet are. Focus on today’s goals and objectives, and don’t jump ahead to two weeks or two months or two years from now. I don’t know if I will have the strength to endure 18 more sessions of chemo….but I know that I can endure this afternoon’s session. I can do one more today. And that should be the goal – just do today – and then wake up tomorrow and face tomorrow’s challenge as it presents itself.