Everything happens for a reason, even cancer. I am thrilled to say I just walked out of the hospital doors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center after receiving the news that I have achieved a complete and total REMISSION. Leukemia pushed me to death’s door more than once, and it taught me more than I could ever dream of knowing about myself and life in general.
At the beginning of August 2018, I was ready for a change. I moved to Nashville to pursue my MBA and moved into a new place with my long-time girlfriend and our 4-legged fur child. But, that’s the funny thing about your 20’s—you start to learn that life isn’t this straightforward trajectory that you always imagined. So instead of spending my free time on Broadway or eating copious amounts of hot chicken, I spent it the hospital as I was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood cancer that had taken over my body and had made itself especially at home in a 19x12cm Nerf football-size tumor in the center of my chest. By the time of diagnosis, the tumor had rendered one of my lungs functionless and had pushed me into near-death critical condition due to its proximity to my heart, trachea, and other vital organs.
I’ve had 116 chemotherapy treatments, multiple invasive surgeries, learned a lot about myself, made many new lifelong friends, fallen deeper in love almost every single day, developed a lucrative hobby I never knew how much I needed (blainedavisstudio.com), and spent way too much time sitting at home puking chemo remnants while day trading the US and Asian equity markets. Most importantly though, I’ve learned that blood is so much thicker than water. I have the greatest family who never left me searching for help at any turn; they were already there before me. I have the most loving supportive wonderful life partner anyone could ask for. One who didn’t even hesitate to be by my side through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Thank you to Hospital clergy, yoga instructors, my therapist, the incredible cancer survivor community I was introduced to over the months, and every single person who took a moment out of their day to let me vent and talk about this journey. Lending an ear can sometimes make all the difference and I truly believe mental health is something not given remotely enough attention in today’s society. The brain is a big organ. Treat it like one. Keep it healthy. To everyone reading this, I can’t stress this enough --if you need someone to talk to, I’m here for you. Someone is there for you. There is no problem too big or too small to seek out help.
I may be in remission, but I know this journey is far from over. But I’m getting through this and moving on. So, my new perspective on life: Realize how trivial and small most issues we run into are. Realize how incredible the people around you are. Realize there is no substitute for mental and physical health. Realize how short life is. There isn’t much time to waste - so get out there and do it.