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My Life

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by Cesar

October 2001



I may look like a normal 17-year-old guy, but you know what? I’m not. My name is Cesar. I was born in Costa Rica in November 1994, I have two absolutely wonderful parents and I have transitional cell carcinoma. It’s a type of cancer that’s extremely rare in children. At the time of my diagnosis in 2001, only five other kids in the world (yes, in the entire world!!!) had it.

From there on, surgeries, chemotherapies, and great teachings came along, changing my life at every corner, making me see life in a totally different way. Let’s not get ahead of the game here though. How about we start from the very beginning, the beginning of my complicated and absolutely magnificent life…

It was October 7, 2001, and the sun was up. I was in first grade, and I was anxious for recess to come. A group of us went outside to play by a metal irrigation tube. We imagined it looked like a spaceship, and I was supposed to dive and jump to avoid getting hit by it. So I jumped, and I dove to the right, and I dove to the left, and then, I felt this incredible pain that you cannot possibly imagine.

There and then, my life changed completely. That afternoon, after hours of nonstop pain, my parents took me to the ER thinking that I probably had a broken bone. The doctors decided to do an X-ray and found nothing abnormal, no broken bones or anything, but my almost unbearable pain was still there. The docs then decided to do a CAT scan. That’s how we found out I had cancer.

Two days later, a surgery was made to extract my entire kidney and some of its surroundings. They took so much out, that when I woke up, I actually felt lighter. The next day I was loopy as heck, but the pain was gone.

I’ve had lots of treatment since that day, including 17 surgeries and lots of chemo. Most recently, I’m grateful that St. Jude opened their amazing doors to my rare cancer, allowing me to enter one of their clinical trials after other chemos had failed.

Looking back on my life, two things are unquestionably clear: God is great, and cancer is the best thing that has happened to me.

You are probably thinking right now: Dang! That chemo messed him up bad. Tell you what; many people are extremely confused when I say that, so you aren’t the first. Let’s be honest. Yes, cancer kills many, many people every year throughout the world, but if you can put it in perspective, you are as lucky as can be.

To me cancer is the cause of my happiness, not my sadness. It’s the reason why I am who I am—a soccer-playing freak who enjoys life to the max. It’s why I have amazing friends, and it’s why I’m able to touch people’s lives. It is my past, my present and—most likely—my future. God only knows what is going to happen to me tonight, tomorrow or the day after, but one thing is for certain: No matter what He has chosen, I will enjoy this fantastic life that He has given me and make a difference in people’s life wherever I go.