Ethan was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, just before his fifteenth birthday.
Ethan tells us his story of this life-changing experience:
On January 25th 2013 my whole life changed
"That was the day I was diagnosed with cancer - and from then on I was a new person.
At first I was extremely pessimistic and had all the natural responses - anger, sadness and even depression, but I soon overcame this. The only way I was able to conquer my feelings and have a clear head was to allow my loved ones to love me. I opened myself up to them and they helped me realise that anger and frustration was only wasting time and energy - that it doesn't change anything.
Being calm and acknowledging the position you are in is the first step in the healing process.
Chemotherapy, but with laughter and smiles
A few months afterwards I began my chemotherapy treatment not knowing what the next chapter of my life entailed.
This part was definitely nothing like I imagined. It was full of laughter, smiles and so much love from family and friends. I had envisioned only heartache and pain. But although cancer is no joke, it certainly isn't a disease that affects the mind and soul.
I realised I couldn’t physically shrug off my condition but believe the best way to beat cancer is to have a healthy mind-set. I believe the only time anyone truly loses to cancer is when they decide to give in mentally.
Overcoming my fear of surgery
After seven months of chemotherapy the doctors decided on surgery to remove the remainder of the cancer.
Before getting cancer I was terrified of surgery and wanted nothing to do with needles or knives. When the time for the surgery arrived, I wasn't afraid at all.
The experience of chemotherapy had toughened me up and I wouldn't allow any negative thoughts to affect me. I was no longer afraid. I felt mentally and emotionally resilient. I still had emotions, but I was able to control them better.
On 3rd July I had a six hour operation. I woke up the same day and, as expected, I couldn't move or talk much. I woke up to my Mum there beside me.
Even though the pain was severe, being surrounded and chatting to family and friends helped so much.As the pain killers wore off I started to feel pain. Even though the pain was severe, being surrounded and chatting to family and friends helped so much. It’s important not to focus on the bad things in life - it clouds you from seeing all the beautiful and positive things.
I was expected to be bedridden for a while, but within the first week I forced myself up and was walking around and doing press-ups. Being strong physically has little to do with making it through. It's about forcing yourself through mentally first and you realise that your body will follow. If you feel like you can’t do something physically then do it mentally first, then doing it physically will be the least of your issues.
Proton therapy - in the USA
Around two months after surgery I was told that the best course of action was for me to have proton therapy. There’s no such specialised facility in the UK, so I would have to go to the USA.
I was shown the proton therapy machine and I was in awe – it looked like a deconstructed transformer!At first I was convinced it was a practical joke and I was waiting for it to finish. But it was one hundred per cent real. On 11th October I arrived in Oklahoma. We were put in a hotel and the treatment clinic was just down the road.
I’d so far only had chemotherapy so didn’t know what to expect from radiotherapy. But I was going into it with a strong and healthy mind-set.
I was shown the proton therapy machine and I was in awe – it looked like a deconstructed transformer! I’m into science so was well aware of what protons were, their effects on the body and how they would be used to treat me.
After two weeks of treatment my skin started to peel back exposing raw muscle, which was to be expected. I focused on my family and loved ones around me.
The following three months was one of the best times of my life. In the end I got to see family I hadn't seen in years and I actually felt like I wanted to stay in America.
A positive experience for me
As crazy as it may sound, going through cancer was one of the best things that ever happened to me!I can truly say that the entire time from being diagnosed to my final treatment was one of the the greatest times of my life.
Having cancer and going through the whole ordeal was amazing for me. I don’t look back on being ill and having treatment but on the great times with family and friends. It’s so much easier to remember the fun than the distress.
There truly is a silver lining to every cloud. There is always something to look forwards to - something better in life - no matter how bad the situation gets.
I have learnt some valuable life lessons. As crazy as it may sound, going through cancer was one of the best things that ever happened to me!"
Ethan, March 2015
Read more: Information on cancer types | Commonly used terms in treatment
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