photography

My Early Years With Cancer by Frankie Concha

I had the chance to visit my local clinic, I haven't been here in  a long time. This is where it all started 8 years ago. I decide to bring Mirai along so she can also learn the roots of how things started.

 

This was the clinic I would go to for just normal visits. Lots of memories came back walking around here. Lets see how much I can remember so you guys can get a good idea of how my battle with cancer begun. This is also Mirai's first  visit here. ^^

 

I had symptoms of itchiness coughing and I was having night sweats. I decided to go get checked out since I wasn't getting any better. My Doctor wanted a Tuberculosis test because of the coughing but the results came back negative. The next test was a chest X-ray after a few more days results showed a 16x16cm mass in my chest. My Doctor wanted to refer me to a specialist known as an Oncologist, I had no knowledge of who or what this specialist was for.

 

Taken 1/2/14 after one of my chemotherapy visits.

 

Taken 11/20/17 same location and camera placement as the photo above.

I set up an appointment for the Oncologist which was in the same building. After a long discussion filled with explanations and what they do... I was scared for my life. They wanted to do a needle biopsy to get a sample of whatever it was that was inside my chest. I did an outpatient visit with minor surgery and anesthesia. After a few days I was given a diagnosis, Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma, treatment needed to restarted right away.

 
Out of all the different chemicals I have done this was the only one that wasn't clear. Hand injected by my Chemo Nurse, this one took at least an hour depending how the pain was.

Out of all the different chemicals I have done this was the only one that wasn't clear. Hand injected by my Chemo Nurse, this one took at least an hour depending how the pain was.

I had to drop out of collage and drop out of living a normal life. I was given a list of things to avoid eating and percausions to take due to my immune system becoming weak from chemotherapy, it felt like I had to live in a bubble. I started with a chemical abbreviated ABVD it was 4 chemicals but I could only take 3 because the mass that was in-between my heart and lungs was pressing against them and the chemical would damage my lungs since they weren't in good shape. This treatment would take 4-6 hours with each chemical having its own amount and different range of time to be injected through IV. All kinds of chemo chemicals could not simply be injected quickly as they are strong and can damage your veins and cause many problems. Radiation was another form of treatment used on me. Who wants to be blasted with radiation? I didn't, but I didn't have any options.

 

This little coffee shop in the lobby just opened when I started my treatments its actually gotten a little bigger since then. My parents and visitors would hang around here as they took turns sitting with me in the chemo room. After chemo my body was exhausted I would sit on the bench and try to drink some coffee or eat a snack before heading home. It was very difficult to eat anything with how nauseous I felt.

 

This was my daily path in and out with my blankets because of how cold the chemo room was, and with something to do while I did treatment but I would usually try and sleep to make time pass as quickly as possible. I was also doing steroid injections in the back of my arms Monday-Friday to help boost my immune system which didn't help much and hurt a lot when injected, also just left me very tired and had to take pre medications for everything just to help prevent side affects. I always wore face masks and lost all my hair to the point I even lost my eyelashes.

 

My journey didn't end here, a little more than a year of treatment and radiation I was responding well to treatment I was in remission for only a month until my cancer started growing again. I needed to visit other hospitals/clinics for more procedures and hospital stays with different types of chemotherapy's some chemicals taking a full 24 hrs of injecting. Three more years into this and some good responses to another chemical it soon lead to me needing a stem cell transplant as my next chance to try and destroy this cancer once and for all. This procedure was done at USC Norris Cancer Hospital. It has been about 6 years of fighting and curently about 2 years of being free of treatments I need to reach 5 years with no recurrence to be considered cured but life after cancer is its own journey. 


Transplant 8:5:14

Thank you all who took the time to read all this. I was hesitant to share my story in detail and with personal images I had to dig up from my archive. It has been an emotional ride but thank you all for the support since day one and Culture Japan for your blogs that kept me entertained and helped me learn more about my love for Japan.