My Cancer Story
On May 6, 2013, I got the news of my cancer diagnosis.
It changed me.
Everyone is pretty familiar with my story. I found out I had leukemia two days after my 22nd birthday, resurrected my running career and won the Santa Clarita Valley Half-Marathon five months later, and have been on a roller-coaster battle with the disease ever since. There's a lot you don't know about me and my fight against cancer though.
For example, I wanted to save my running career from the black hole it had quickly sank into so badly I'd go to the gym on the San Jose State University campus almost every night to ride 20 miles on the elliptical bicycle by myself. I did this because running was, and still is, one of the things I loved most. I couldn't lose it.
My battle with cancer and my two-year journey since that devastating day in 2013 is a lot more than just the posts I write on Facebook or the stories I've told on here. I never slept. I barely ate. And I was extremely depressed, so much, I was suicidal time and time again during those couple years. There's a lot to my story I'll probably never share with anyone because no one needs to know and I'd like to forget, but know that I'm truly grateful for each and everyone of you for praying and supporting me and for all the calls, texts, letters, and messages I get from you all every day to this day. If it wasn't for all of you I wouldn't be running anymore, or worse, might not be here.
It's crazy to think two years has gone by since hearing those three words that changed my life forever. So many aspects of my life have changed since and it's frustrating not seeing progress these last few months. I'm also not a fan of the eating schedule I've been on with the new chemotherapy pills I'm taking and a possible bone marrow transplant in my future scares the shit out of me, but I know I have to keep fighting because one, I'm so close to full remission, and, two, none of you have given up on me. Thank you a million times over for standing by my side.
Even though I received some really tough news at my last UCLA appointment in August, I'm still doing my best to kick cancer's ass. I've started my last year at Cal State Northridge and trained my way into the best shape of my life (I ran a 26-second three-mile personal best at San Buenaventura State Park on Sept 12 and won the Santa Clarita Valley Marathon in the 10th fastest time in SCV history on Nov. 8). Before my win in November, I thought I'd never match the performances of the top guys in Santa Clarita due to my health, but things have definitely changed. Sure, just being able to go out and run and compete and have fun doing it is a victory in itself, and the most important part of my running, but I'm competitive and I want more. I've been one of the best and most consistent distance runners in the valley for over a decade now and am at the pinnacle of my career heading into 2016.
Before cancer my goal was to be the very best in Santa Clarita Valley history, but now it's to inspire as many people as I can. When the future of SCV distance running looks back at this era, if anyone remembers me, I want to be remembered for having a huge passion for the sport and for persevering despite all the hardships I had to battle throughout my life. I want kids to look at me and be like, "I want to be just like him," not for my running, but for my stubbornness in never giving up. The legacy I leave behind is far more important than any win or time I'll ever run.
With that being said a lot has changed in two years. I'm almost done with my bachelors degree with my eyes on a possible teachers credential or Masters degree, I'm running faster than I ever have while fighting cancer, and I still have the greatest support system ever. The emotional and mental aspects of fighting cancer outweigh the physical qualities of cancer by a landslide, so all the support I receive every day has been life changing.
I hope one day I can finally say I'm in full remission, and I wish there was a way I could thank all of you for praying and supporting me over these last few years. There's no way I could have gone through this alone, so know that you were the difference maker in this ongoing battle. I feel like May 6, 2013, just happened yesterday, and I'll probably never forget that day, but I also know I won't ever forget all the positive ones I've experienced since. It's been just over two years since being diagnosed with cancer, which might seem like a weird thing to celebrate because cancer obviously isn't a good thing, but anniversaries can celebrate bad things too. This one is celebrating how far I've come and the journey itself.
"Never, never, never give up." ~Winston Churchill