Hi, I’m John, and up until recently, I was a cancer survivor.
On December 22, 2016, my GP performed a CT scan to address my concerns over my symptoms returning. He confirmed that I have multiple lesions in my bladder, indicating that my cancer had come out of remission.
Here’s the entire story:
In February of 2015 I was diagnosed with Stage 1, high grade, bladder cancer. Because it was only Stage 1 my treatment consisted of surgery and 6 weeks of BCG. At the end of the treatment my urologist said I looked good and scheduled a follow-up appointment for 3 months later. My follow-up appointment was clear, as well.
This is where things became a little crazy due to my mental state at the time. Not only had I just been terrified by a bout with cancer (no matter how minor), but my mother had died of Stage 4 brain cancer just a year before I had been diagnosed, almost to the day. I was living in Philadelphia at the time.
When I’d been diagnosed I immediately thought of all the things I had wanted to do, but hadn’t got around to due to procrastination and being stuck in the day-to-day grindstone of an intense job. One of those things that I had always planned to do was move back to California. My mother and I had lived in the Bay Area when I was a child and ever since we left I had wanted to return. The Bay Area felt more like “home” than my home town of West Chester, Pennsylvania. So I moved. I gave away all of my furniture, broke my lease, and drove to California with my cat, some clothes, a tent, and little else.
The symptoms I had experienced previous to my 2015 diagnosis returned some time during the summer of 2016. I had no medical insurance and couldn’t afford to enroll myself, so I ignored the symptoms. They worsened. I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to do anything about the cancer that I knew had returned, and I was quietly accepting the fact that if, in fact, it was cancer, I wasn’t in a position to treat it. At the beginning of December I realized that my employer had falsely informed me that I wasn’t eligible for benefits; in fact, I was, and they immediately enrolled me.
So, I went to a GP, had a CT scan, and my fears were confirmed: it showed multiple lesions. I already knew it was worse than my first round with it because I had been experiencing pain and discomfort in my pelvis; a symptom that hadn’t presented the first time.
I have insurance. I can pay the medical bills. What I can’t afford is the amount of work that I’m going to miss due to treatment. I won’t be able to pay rent or any other of my bills (car payment, insurance, utilities, phone, food, transportation to the hospital).
I’m modestly estimating that I will be out of work for approximately 2 months. With the cost of living in San Francisco, that totals ~$5000/month to keep the room I’m renting, pay utilities, keep my vehicle, and feed myself during treatment.
I don’t live an extravagant lifestyle and I have a modest job. I’m the Head Carpenter at The Strand Theater, American Conservatory Theater’s educational space. I had only recently become financially stable this fall (2016) so I hadn’t started saving anything; I was just finding myself in a position to be able to save money when I was diagnosed.
My dream ever since I was 8 years old has aways been to return to the Bay Area. I finally did it. I finally moved, and I’d finally pushed through that first year that makes or breaks most newcomers to the area. Please don’t let my dream end after only one year in the Bay.
To reiterate: I can afford the medical bills thanks to my insurance, but I won’t be able to pay my daily “living” bills. Your donation(s) will pay my rent, my car payment, my car insurance, utilites, and food. I anticipate not being able to pay those bills for the months of February and March.