Young Adult Cancer

When I was 3-years-old, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Although I have been cancer free for 18 years, cancer continues to touch my life in a variety of ways. I try to stay connected to people who understand what I’m going through.

Everyone has a story to tell. Whether on a first date, job interview or happy hour with a new friend, there’s always a select version of our story that we choose to share. It usually includes where we went to school and how we found ourselves where we are today.

I was 27-years-old and went to my primary care doctor for a sore shoulder and a cough that only happened when I laughed. Given a recent backpacking trip, it made sense when his initial diagnosis was a shoulder strain. But as an extra precaution, he ordered a chest x-ray. That’s when he found the mass under my sternum, near my heart.

Men are often reluctant to share their feelings. When trouble strikes, they tend to bottle it up, keep a stiff upper lip and carry on. This is especially true for young men facing cancer.

Regardless of how or when you choose to share your experience, remember that your voice could make a difference in someone’s life. All I can hope is that my words might reach another survivor and remind them that they are not alone.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I left work to go to my doctor’s appointment and planned on being back to the office in time for a meeting. Little did I know my entire life would flip upside down that afternoon.

When Ian Cherico was rushed to the hospital, he was in a fight for his life. “Minutes later and I could have died,” he says. Ian was only 17 years old at the time, and his body was shutting down. It all started with a headache he couldn’t shake.

Everybody has bad days, but nobody tells you how to handle them. The times where you feel hopeless, anxious or paranoid. When you feel angry that cancer will always be a part of your life, scared that it may come back or frustrated that side effects from treatment might never go away.

I hope you will take a moment to write down what you want your 2017 to be. And whether you are in the middle of treatment, completing treatment, or newly diagnosed, trust that you will get to a place where you can say, “I'm happy, and I am alive.”

With only a few days until Christmas, I’m doing everything I can to channel that strength and use it to begin 2017 on a grateful and optimistic note.

There are certain times of year when my cancer story makes me feel incredibly isolated. There’s the time surrounding April 14, the day I was diagnosed, July 29, the day I was deemed “in remission” and, the one I’ve experienced most recently, the month of October.

After a recent appointment at Roswell Park, I was suddenly awash with emotion, almost on the verge of tears. My brain was flooded with the enormity of my entire experience, starting of course with the brutal reality that I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36.