My name is Dylan and l am now 17 years old. This is my story about how my life changed two years ago.
It all started in December, 2014 when l wasn’t feeling very well and my dad thought maybe I had contracted a flu virus. After going to the doctors, it was first determined that l had a mild bowel infection and that is why l was having so much stomach pain and was always tired. After a week of this and some medication my doctor prescribed, l started to feel better but that didn’t last long. Everything changed Saturday, December 13th.
I woke my dad up at 5:00am and told him I was going downstairs to try and get some sleep in the chair as l had been up most of the night with stomach pains but thought nothing of it. My dad, feeling very concerned, said l think we need to go into the hospital to get this looked at since it had now been over a week and l was still having these pains. After some disagreement with my dad about going, we left for the hospital. l did not want to, but l reluctantly went.
We got to the hospital and they immediately did some blood work which caused me to throw up. They then put us into a room while they ran some tests. After five hours, at around 11:00am, we were informed that my appendix had ruptured and they were going to have to do emergency surgery. It was then my dad contacted my mom and she came to the hospital as well. l was scheduled for surgery at 12:30pm that day. After the surgery, the surgeon told my parents she was very happy with how things went and nothing more was said.
Things were great and all seemed pretty normal as we had finally found out what was causing my pain. l spent the next five days in the hospital recovering from appendix surgery (you’re usually only in two days for appendix surgery). Why is this part of my story so important? After all, they had found out what was causing the pain, we dealt with it and life goes on. At least that is what l thought and you’re about to find out just how wrong l was!
I was scheduled for a follow up appointment on January 20th, 2015 with the doctor who had performed the surgery. My dad and l arrived at the doctor’s office around 10:00am and waited for her in her office. She came in and explained how happy she was about how the surgery went but that they had found something when running tests on my appendix that they had removed.
Without any advance notice, she told us, “You have Lymphoma cancer”. “Wait…what?”, was all l could think of at that moment. My dad just looked at me and l could tell by the look on his face his didn’t know what to say or do. He asked a couple more questions that l don’t remember because, after hearing those words, everything was a complete blur.
The only thing l remembered when leaving the doctor’s office was that someone from London would be in contact with us and let us know when we would be going down to find out what the next steps were.
We got into the car and my dad asked if l was ok and what l wanted to do. Still stunned and honestly in complete shock, I told him to take me back to school which l think completely surprised him.
My dad now had the unfortunate task of telling my mom and family which didn’t go so well. Everyone had so many questions and we had very few answers. The one thing my dad did say to me when he was talking to people was what the initial reaction was and that was…ok, where do WE go from here? It was then that l knew we weren’t alone in this battle!
The next few days were a kind of whirlwind as so many things were going on. I was just beginning exams at school and really didn`t know if l would be writing them or not. My dad had to meet with the school and Vice Principal. They were awesome and just told us to let them know if there was anything they could do and what the next steps were. Within three days, we received a call from London and we were to be down there the next day…I was officially done school.
The next three months were some of the toughest times l have ever gone through at such a young age. At our first meeting, we were told that they weren’t exactly sure which Lymphoma cancer l had so the course of action was to treat me for the more serious one, and with my age and how healthy l was, they took a more aggressive approach to treatment.
I was informed that they were taking the five stage approach and l would be receiving chemo treatment for five days straight with 10 days off in-between treatments but that didn’t happen. l kept developing fevers and had to be rushed back to London after only being home for a few days. In some cases, l was only home for a day. My parents figured it out and we spent over 60 days in the hospital in just three months. Our lives had been completely turned upside down.
The first round of treatment went really well and l thought, “no big deal….l can do this”. Boy, was l wrong! It was the second round that completely destroyed me. I was sick the entire time and lost a huge amount of weight. I didn’t want to walk; all l did was sleep and get sick….life was over as l knew it.
After my second round, l went home only to be rushed back to London the next day with a 104 degree temp that saw me end up in intensive care because l had issues with breathing. I never told my parents this until after my treatment was completed, but it was at that time that l just wanted to give up. l couldn’t take it anymore. I had six IV lines going into me and these big machines all around me but it was also then that l knew l couldn’t do that to my mom, dad and my brother who was having a hard time dealing with this. I also couldn’t do this to my friends and my family!
The next three rounds went ok after they put me on this new experimental drug. They still weren’t great, mind you, but nothing compared to how l felt after round two. After round four, we were informed that the cancer had disappeared but they were still doing the final treatment just to be safe.
Then came the best day of my life so far… April 19th, l finished my last treatment, rang the bell and we left the hospital. I only had one more mishap as I developed another fever on April 24th and spent another eight days in the hospital but this would be the last time this happened.
What has followed the last two years since then were a number of appointments to which l am still going to this day, and will be for quite some time. This is now a part of my life and one l will get used to.
In closing, l just want to say l do consider myself a very lucky person as it is way too easy to give up but that doesn’t help the people around me deal with this. I can honestly say the support system my family and l have had through this ordeal from the hospital to my school, my friends, the various organizations, Childcan, Ronald McDonald House and, most importantly, family. Without their support, l know l would not have made it through this horrible ordeal in my life!! I am truly a very lucky boy to have so many people that care!!