So I found out that I had cancer on June 7th. I was lucky. It wasn’t like there was total shock after finding mysterious bruises, or missed diagnosis after missed diagnosis stemming from feeling ill in any way – it was pretty obvious and I went to one of the best places in the world to take care of it. Air Assault graduation was three days earlier, followed by a road trip back home to North Carolina for a bit of leave before starting an AIAD (internship) at Fort Bragg. It just happened to be my last night of leave. I just happened to be at home. We happened to live so close to UNC. UNC happened to have an amazing Cancer Center and be one of the only local medical providers to accept Tricare (military health insurance). Talk about lucky timing.
Things were very apparent when I got in the shower and there were three of something that there were supposed to be two of. Dad thought it was a hernia, and I went with it because there was no need to assume anything worse and freak anybody out. I called my doctor, who called her friend the Urologist, who called the Urologist on call, who set things up at the hospital while I went to Dillo with Jeremy (if you promise a younger brother Tex-Mex, you gotta deliver no matter what). The Emergency Room at UNC ran my tests and scans pretty quickly. The Urologists were replaced by Oncologists. By the end of the night, the C-word was thrown around with a pretty high level of confidence. It was Rhabdomyosarcoma – a pretty rare pediatric cancer with no known carcinogens or genetic causes. Captain Cordova and the Brigade Surgeon at West Point talked me through it and kept me calm. My parents were supportive. We all went home, relatively shocked but ready to put up a fight.