Go to contents

“Cancer Cannot Put Me Down”

Posted July. 23, 2007 03:05,   


It happened a couple of years ago. After a school trip in my second year in high school, I felt an abnormality in my system. The right portion of my abdomen began to hurt, and so did my right shoulder. Breathing was hard, and sitting at a desk was torture.

I spent one week without consulting a doctor. Overwhelmed with pain, I visited a neighborhood clinic. The doctor conducted a blood test, which showed my liver was ten times worse than that of a normal person.

Still, I did not feel “abnormal.” I maintained myself through various medical tests. The Korean SAT posed a more urgency to me. I was studying in hospital bed.

Various tests such as MRI and CT led to a diagnosis of liver cancer.

I could not believe it. Actually, I was extremely athletic. I enjoyed a variety of sports. My Mom used to say that I would become a sports coach. I did not smoke or drink. But I got diagnosed with a cancer. I could not believe it. The medical team moved fast and conducted a surgery shortly thereafter. Awakening from the anesthesia, I found marks like quadratic graphs on my chest. The incision lines were stapled like sheets of paper. But the long road did not stop there. I had to undergo a harsh chemotherapy regimen.

The chemotherapy was crushing down hard on me. I could not go to school. I had no choice but to give up on the Korean SAT test, and postponed my college education. My doctor advised me that 90% of the cancer patients suffered from vomiting and other side effects. He also told me, however, “Your attitude may reduce side effects by 90%.” I shared my room at the cancer ward with six other patients. All of them kept vomiting. But I didn’t. I thought my mind could overcome my physical conditions.

I could control my pain and reaction to it. But I couldn’t do anything about the changes to my appearance. I lost 10kg, for example. Looking at myself in the mirror, I brainwashed myself that it was a good diet plan. I could not stand smelling the smell of food.

The regimen finally ended. Released from the hospital, I hopped around in joy, thinking, “I am the happiest man in the world.”

I took another six months off. Then, I got enrolled in a private educational institute to prepare for the Korean SAT. I studied day and night without any distraction.

About two months had passed since I picked up my studies again. My leg began to feel numb like under anesthesia. I could not move an inch without my Mom. Soon, I could not go to restroom by myself. Then, I consulted with my doctor again. The doctor told me that the cancer cells had metastasized into my back. I could not understand. “Why should I suffer again?” I thought. The painful and harsh memories of the surgery and the chemotherapy swallowed me up. Not long after, however, I began to write down 20 reasons to be thankful for the recurrence of the disease. In the process, I got determined to not give in to it. My past experience had taught me how much faster I could recover once I assumed a positive attitude.

Once again, I got riddled with more then 100 staples. I did not like hot weather and sweating. Thus, wearing an armor-like medical device in the middle of summer was a torture. But I could detach myself from the pain and agony, thinking, “This is the second time. I can overcome it better.”

After the relapse, I underwent 13 chemotherapy sessions. I did not vomit at all. I did not have any appetite, but I ate meals to survive. Thus, I gained back some weight. When a patient is in a hospital for a long time, it becomes hard to find a vessel for IV injections. That did not happen to me. I worked out regularly, and posed no such problems to my medical staff.

Now, I am undergoing my 20th chemotherapy session. After this, I will resume my SAT preparation, and continue to work out. I was struck with cancer before age 20. But I cannot and will not give up on my life. That is why I can smile today.