I am writing this post to educate everyone of my journey with Cancer. I want to start by saying I have lived a very blessed life and continue to live a blessed life. I am extremely grateful to all those around me, especially my family and friends. I know I am living my purpose in life as a yoga teacher and I am grateful to be given the opportunity to share what I love to do with the world.
For most people, we live a life from day to day, contemplating our purpose in the world from time to time. If I look back from a young age I always was inquisitive. It was sometimes difficult for me to learn. I remember growing up and having difficulty paying attention in classes. I sometimes would do HW while watching television to slow down my thoughts. For some reason, if my mind was distracted it became easier for me to focus.
My Journey with cancer began in early February, 2019. I was living my life teaching and volunteering and I remember observing a small lump on my left clavicle. I felt alarmed so I went to a doctor who claimed he believed I needed to have further investigation. When this happened I became very scared and frustrated. I remember the doctor saying everything for the next few months will be different than what I was use to.
I was sent to get an ultrasound. An ultrasound is a type of scan where they use an imaging device to determine what is going on inside the body. The ultrasound was the first procedure and I felt confused and yet I knew this was the correct approach. Next, I was sent for a biopsy of my neck. This was scary for me. They take a needle and stick it in your neck. I remember the doctor saying that I will hear a few loud clicks and may feel a bit of discomfort. The doctor was very good. She made me feel comfortable even though I was nervous of what was happening.
Within a week, I got a call from a doctor who said Jason, we are confident that you have Hodgkin’s disease a cancer that may present itself and once treated hopefully should remain in remission throughout the duration of your life. I felt confused. Cancer?? How? I knew the treatment was necessary but how did this invader manifest itself inside my body?
So I proceeded and met with my oncologist. She is an incredible doctor. She assured me I should be okay as long as I follow the strict protocol of only cooked foods, no exposure to large crowds, no swimming, weekly labs, and limited son exposure. I felt angry, confused, and sad. I have been healthy most of my life and now it was time for me to face something very challenging.
Next, I had to get a PET scan and a PICC line placed. The PET Scan is a 2 hour exam where they inject markers into the body to see if Cancer cells are active. I think my experience with meditation helped while it was still very difficult. The PICC line was also an interesting experience. The PICC lines allows for the nurses to deliver the medicine safely and effectively and stays in your arm throughout treatment.
Now it was time for the treatment. Treatment can be very difficult. The entire process is 3-4 hours. It was very difficult every times. First, height and weight. Then blood draw and PICC Line dressing change. Then Pre Meds. I was grateful for anxiety medicine. These include Antihistamines, Steroids, Antinausea, and Anxiety Meds. After an hour, the other meds begin. ABVD. I won’t go into too much detail. If you’d like you can look it up. Overall it was very overwhelming. Despite my challenges, the staff was always nice and supportive. I hated myself sometimes because I would go in there feeling bad for the nurses and staff that had to inject me with the medicine because they knew how overwhelming the experience was for me. Yet, the medicine was a necessity and I am extremely in gratitude to them for being patient and kind.
This treatment pattern proceeded every other week over the course of 4 months (4 cycles, 2 rounds per cycle). Midway through treatment, during cycle 3, I had another PET Scan to determine the medicine was working. It was! 🙂
Today, I am 5 months after my original diagnosis Cancer Free!!! I just had another PET which confirmed these findings (August 2019)!!! I can’t explain what Cancer feels like. In many ways, it’s a toxic disease that destroys the body and in other ways it’s a friend that helps me to try to look more deeply into life and my experiences. What my experience has taught me is the value of friends and family. I think the pain we may experience during life is meant to push us toward what we want, what we believe in and what we are capable of. I have tried my best to be a friend for others, to help those in need and to do things to the best of my ability.
I want to thank my friends and family. I could not have gone through this without them. When I was breaking down they were there to keep me positive and moving forward. My parents, my sisters, Keith, my good friends Andrew, Jason, Justin, Ian, Ryan, Peter, Kenny, Julian, Caitlyn, and Robbie. My students and colleagues. Yogaworks. UCLA health for their excellent medical staff. The incredible UCLA doctors and everyone else for their kind words and support.
The doctor stated everyones experience is different. I am looking forward to begin my new chapter in my life. One in which I may continue to be healthy and cancer free!
Currently, I enjoy teaching yoga, hiking and consuming healthy food!!!
Also I would like to encourage those looking to make donations on behalf of Cancer. Please feel free to donate to either UCLA, USC, Cedars, City of Hope and/or Cancer Support LA. All of these institutions have worked hard to create strong programs to resolve Cancer. Lastly, I would like to honor the life of Spencer Amonwatvorakul who was a friend of mine that passed due to Cancer. Cancer brings up many emotions include hatred, anger, frustration, worry, doubt, etc. What I can say is try your best to be kind to those around you and be grateful for every moment as we are lucky to be here, alive, on this planet. Namaste – Jason