Body aches, pain, loss of appetite, loss of taste, feeling thirsty and cold-like symptoms were the first symptoms that I experienced before being diagnosed with cancer. If you re-read what I listed, does it sound like symptoms of the current horrific pandemic covid-19? Well, it does and that is the mystery behind cancer that the initial symptoms experienced are common indicators of numerous ailments. Personally, I did not think for one second that me, feeling ill would lead to a cancer diagnosis and that I could die from it and yet that is the devastating diagnosis I was given.
It was flu season and many of my co-workers and customers were exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms therefore, when I started to feel sick, it was not surprising. I recall not being a happy camper because I had been fortunate in life where I wouldn’t get sick frequently. Unfortunately, this time, I was experiencing congestion, cough, and body aches which were all symptoms of the common cold. By the end of the first week of feeling sick, I started to experience a loss of appetite and some loss of taste, but this had happened to me previously when I had so much congestion that I couldn’t even breath. The body aches were not uncommon and I was fighting through the cold while going in to work. I figured this was the reason for the body aches. By mid of the following work week, I was starting to feel extremely thirsty and had a loss of taste. Also, I started to feel like I was feverish and now I was feeling pain on my left side of my back. The next morning, I told my mom I wasn’t going into work because I felt terrible and she said it was for the best. I fell asleep in the couch after taking some Dayquil for my cold. As I was sleeping, suddenly my mom woke me up in a panic. She had a very worried look on her face when she told me that while I was sleeping she saw my chest expanding way too much and it didn’t look normal. She insisted that I needed to go to the doctor right away. Seeing how concerned she was, I decided to go to a daytime clinic and of course she went along with me. Once we got to the clinic I was told I had to fill out a bunch of intake forms and that I had to sit in the waiting area until they called me to see the doctor. After what felt like an eternity, I was called in to the examining room. They did the routine procedure of checking my weight, blood pressure and took my temperature. They asked what medication I was taking and the reason for my visit. Then I had to wait another eternity before I could actually see the doctor. When I finally saw the doctor, he told me that based on my symptoms and the way my lungs sounded he thought that I might have pneumonia. He said that I needed to go get x-rays and return to his office immediately to get the test results. I felt so tired and sick, I just wanted to go home and rest but the worried look on my mom’s face was enough to make me go through the process. After getting the x-rays done, we returned to the clinic however, this time he called me in to see the doctor right away. I thought to myself now this can’t be good. Sure enough, it wasn’t, the doctor told me that I was going to have to be admitted into the hospital right away because I had pneumonia. I was baffled at the results but then again, I had never felt this sick ever before in my life or so I thought. Little did I know this was just the tip of the iceberg. My mom and I headed to the hospital right away as the doctor indicated. Once we got to the hospital which I was dreading, I was shocked to find out that they were actually waiting for me. The doctor had send them my test results and all my information. I didn’t have to wait in the lobby. They took me straight to a room and gave me a hospital gown to wear. I felt like VIP but not in a good way. Being VIP in a hospital is never a good sign. This was just the beginning. I had no idea of the Tsunami that was brewing in the mist. During this hospital visit, I was treated for pneumonia for an entire week and then I was released. I was so happy to go home, I thought the worst was over. Of course, I had no idea that that what I had just experienced was nothing compared to what was to come. I went home and continued taking my medication, I started to fill better and was happy at the thought of returning back to normal again soon. I went to sleep feeling great until I woke up. After I was awake for a few minutes I suddenly started to feel tremendous pain on my neck. The pain was so bad that when I touched my neck I felt something odd on the side of my neck. This was so bizarre that I immediately had to get up from the bed and see myself in the mirror. Once I saw my reflection I was horrified to see that the left side of my neck became swollen like a ball. While I was standing there in shock staring at the unfamiliar reflection, I also noticed that I had a huge red rash all over across my chest area and on my right leg. I remember thinking this is definitely not pneumonia, there must be something seriously wrong with me. I immediately went over to my mom’s side and showed her my discovery. She looked extremely worried and said let’s get dressed and go see the doctor again. The clinic accepted walk -ins so there was no need for an appointment. Even though, I had already been there before I still had to wait an eternity before I got to see the doctor. When I finally saw the doctor, he checked my lungs and did some more tests. I immediately saw a change in his demeanor. He had a very concerned and perplex look on his face when he told me he needed to do more tests and I needed to go straight to the hospital again. This time I was scared because I had no idea what was happening to me. I had so many emotions and thoughts running through my head, it was so overwhelming. Once we arrived at the hospital, I was given the VIP treatment again. They were waiting for me and immediately took me to my room, gave me my hospital gown, and started a number of tests. During this hospital stay, I was diagnosed with numerous different illnesses which was mind blowing. I saw countless doctors each telling me that I had a certain illness and what I needed to do to get better. I felt as if I was in one of those medical dramas where a patient has a ton of conflicting symptoms and no one can figure out what is wrong with them.Then, finally, after I don’t know how long, one of the many countless blood tests showed something abnormal. They explained to me that this required a blood specialist to be called to my case. Later I found out that they had called for an oncologist. To be candid I was scared and confused. My thoughts were raising as I thought they had said blood specialist and now they called in an oncologist? Doesn’t oncologist mean cancer? Do I have leukemia? This was the Tsunami making landfall. It started taking everything in its path. This was the turning point in my life and the beginning that led to my devasting cancer death sentence diagnosis.