By: Michael Molinaro
Chances are you never heard of me.
I am not a famous actor, musician, or person that would ever grab your attention in the media headlines.
I am just an ordinary Joe, living out in Canada with a story to tell.
My name is Michael Molinaro. I am 31 years old, a writer and a Cancer survivor.
It doesn't matter what part of the world you are from, your race, ethnicity, orientation or anything else...being told "you have cancer" can be one of the scariest statements in the world to hear.
Never in my life, did I ever expect I would end up going through cancer.
I was only 23 years old when I was first diagnosed with it. Most people in their 20s are partying and having the time of their lives, travelling the world and living.
Meanwhile, there I was with my body riddled with a disease not knowing whether I was going to live or die.
I remember one morning waking up, and feeling like I was chewing on a ball in my mouth.
That ball happened to be the rare occurrence of a tumor that was growing.
At the time, I didn't know it and neither did the doctors. I was misdiagnosed by two doctors who believed what was growing in my mouth was nothing more than a mere canker sore, and nothing to be concerned about.
Sometime after going to the doctor, I happened to go to the dentist for what was supposed to be a routine cleaning.
Upon inspection of my mouth, the dentist had asked if I knew about the ball that was growing, how long it had been there and some other information.
Naturally, I responded and told him that I had gone to the doctor and said he told me it was a canker sore and that it should go down in a few weeks.
I could see the dentist examining it after I told him again, and then he decided to call for a specialist that was in the office to come in the room.
When the specialist arrived, he greeted me and asked politely to show him the ball in my mouth.
Within seconds of being in the room, he said to me, "you have cancer. I need you to be scheduled for a biopsy immediately."
At that point, I was in shock. My mind was still trying to process what he said.
How can that be? I am only 23 years old, and I have cancer?!? How can this happen to me?
I remember walking out of the office wondering how I was going to break this news to my mother. I knew it was going to kill her to hear this.
It would kill any parent to hear their child has been diagnosed with one of the most horrible diseases in the world.
I cannot lie to you and pretend I wasn't scared. I was terrified.
I heard so many horror stories of people who have gone through cancer, losing their hair, eye brows and inevitably their life in order to be treated. I was scared shitless.
After the results from the biopsy came back, the assessment made of me by the specialist at the dental office was correct.
I did have cancer and I was told, that I needed to be down at Princess Margaret Cancer center to be treated immediately.
For a little over a year, my life was spent going back and forth to the hospital.
I ended up doing 11 months of chemotherapy treatment, followed by 6 weeks of intense radiation therapy. It was hell.
Even so, I tried to carry on with my life as normal as possible when I wasn't in the hospital. I feel blessed that even during that time I had the opportunity to meet the legendary Marvel creator Stan lee at Fan Expo, which was a big thing for me.
You might think it's crazy but Cancer actually saved my life. I wake up today with a deep appreciation for life, a sense of gratitude that I never had before.
Prior to the cancer, I was going through a depression and was regularly contemplating suicide. It is kind of ironic, how I went from wanting to end my life, to then having to fight for it.
We take many things for granted. Well, let me say that at least I did, so I will speak for myself.
But I cant begin to tell you how beautiful it really is to be waking up from your own bed and not a hospital bed.
To be able to use the washroom to urinate and not have a chemo machine beside you. To be able to go outside when you want and not fear if you catch cold you may die.
If I want you to take away anything from this, it is to appreciate the breath of life that is in you while you have it.
I know life is painful and can be a struggle everyday. But it's the greatest gift we have been given by God. A gift we should appreciate.
The gift of life.
Please feel free to check my book of poetry available on Amazon called, "The Dream is Free but the Hustle is Sold Separately" and visit my website: www.michaelmolinaro.com
May God be with you all.