This is me.

My name is Jeremy and I have cancer.

Cancer. I have cancer.

I’m 40 years old, very active, no family history, I take relatively good care of myself (as much as your average American), don’t smoke, etc. And I got cancer.

I still remember the day that I finally got the diagnosis. September 7th, 2021. But, to be honest, I had been suffering for months. I was in constant killer pain, I had little to no appetite, and in the few weeks before the diagnosis, even sleep was becoming impossible. I wasn’t suffering. I was dying and I was doing it in denial.

Because, despite what my body was telling me, despite all the blinding evidence, despite it all, the last news you expect to finally get is that you have cancer.

Why? Because, to be honest, there is no way you can just get that news. Period.

Cancer. I’ve lost people to cancer. I lost my grandfather to cancer and just lost another grandfather figure to cancer. I lost an aunt who I never met to cancer. I lost a high school friend to cancer last year. These are just the ones off the top of my head. I have a childhood friend who is currently fighting cancer. I have friends who are survivors of cancer (I had no idea how many before now).

Young people. Old people. All people who had no right to get it.

And I’m now one of them.

Cancer. One word. Only six letters long. But it becomes a definition. Not who I am as a person. But a part of my journey that I never expected. Never wanted. I feel robbed. Cheated. “Too young” is a phrase that keeps going through my mind. Despite all evidence. Despite the fact that children get it. Children die from it. And athletes (Lance Armstrong, of course — especially since he also was diagnosed with testicular cancer) get it. Despite it all.

Cancer.

Five weeks. It’s only been five weeks since I got the diagnosis, but a lifetime has happened in those five weeks. I’ve been in and out of the hospital during that time. I’ve had fourteen full outpatient radiation appointments. I had surgery that removed my left testicle (as well as the cancerous tumor). And tomorrow I find out about chemotherapy. And all that entails.

I’ve lost all track of time and its meaning. It’s become as non-linear as in the book Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I’m lucky to know what month it is (thank you Halloween — my favorite holiday, for keeping me on track). One could blame all the news meds I’m on, but the reality of it is that this is such a shock to the system mentally as is it physically. I would even argue more so mentally than physically.

Because five weeks means nothing and everything. Because time means everything now. Everything. Even the small moments. Especially the small moments. Every moment counts now.

And that wasn’t the case before now. To which, I am grateful for.

Gratitude. That’s the second part of this. All this. I have found myself grateful for living. For having a life. For the little moments. For all of the moments — both hard and not.

I’m grateful for my girlfriend. Words can’t express that enough. I’m grateful for my family and friends who have not only stepped up to the bat — but kept me laughing and sane through all of this. I’m grateful for the phenomenal medical team and the care and compassion that I’ve gotten from them. Which I have discovered is rare, in and of itself.

I’m grateful to finally be going in a direction in my life that has been needing to happen for years. Decades, one could argue. Because I’m now staring death in the face and seizing the bull by the horns to make all my remaining time matter.

Which is something I honestly, truly haven’t done before. And it feels good to finally live.

It took cancer to wake me up. And I have no intention of falling under the slumber of life’s complacency again.

For that I’m grateful.

Because I also know how rare that is. My type of cancer is “highly treatable”. Not everyone gets that chance. Not everyone gets that time. So few, so rare do.

My name is Jeremy. I’m 40 years old. And I have cancer. This has been a hard pill to swallow. My life is changed forever.

I'm that guy you know.