Kate’s Real Food Brand Ambassador, Jason Rose, tells us about his battle with cancer and how it changed his life. We encourage you to read his story below:
In September 2009, I moved to Boise, Idaho. I just bought a house, new car, and was working as a firefighter - everything was moving along perfectly in life. Shortly after in December around my 36th birthday, I caught a typical cold with a sore throat, began coughing, and had developed swollen lymph nodes. Three months later, my lymph nodes were still just as swollen. After talking with some medical friends and family members, they convinced me to see a doctor. Soon I was scheduled for an appointment, which led to a cat scan, and then a biopsy. At that moment I knew my life was going to change, but I had no idea how drastically.
The doctors did a five needle biopsy on my neck and sent the tissue samples for testing. I remember clearly the day the doctor called: I was at the golf store looking for new clubs. I answered the phone and heard they didn’t have definitive results, but the cells looked suspicious. I had an idea what they meant but I needed to hear it from him, then he replied “it is cancerous.” I remember sitting in my car crying for an hour, trying to tell my parents I have cancer without a clue what was going to happen next.
The next month and a half was the longest time in my life. I created a living will, had two neck surgeries, and finally received a diagnosis: Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in my neck, jaw and chest. Once the diagnosis came in, I had to have a bone marrow test, a port implanted into my chest and a tube inserted into my heart. The treatment consisted of 3 ½ months of Chemotherapy followed by a month of Radiation. During Chemotherapy I had gained 70 pounds and looked really sick and bloated. The radiation was the worst part as it burned my throat, chest and back. It was hard to eat, drink and keep weight on.
During my treatment I continued to work as a firefighter on the Rescue Squad. Being able to work and have my coworkers there for me helped immensely. Some days I was so sick, exhausted, and lethargic I have no idea how I worked at all. A month after treatment, I was running on a treadmill at the firehouse to improve my shape and ultimately feel better. During that run I felt a slight tingle in my back with a loss of sensation down the back of my legs. I knew this wasn’t right and felt like I had developed a pinched nerve or slipped a disk since I had gained weight and was pushing myself too hard.
Back to the Doctors
Back to the family doctor I went and an MRI was scheduled ASAP. Soon after the MRI, my doctor called to tell me I had a same day appointment with a Neurologist. I had no choice but to leave work and rush to the appointment. The Neurologist explained that they found a tumor in my spinal cord that was attached to my nerves causing the loss of sensation. I blurted out, “is it cancerous?!”, to which he responded, “usually not but with your history we need to remove it.” I had emergency surgery3 days later.
Thoughts began circling my head: will I be paralyzed; will I be able to walk, work or play sports ever again? The surgery was completed and went well according to the doctors. I received 27 staples in my back, and was in so much pain that I was unable to move in the hospital bed without assistance. The doctor informed me the tumor was cancerous. I was in complete shock! Questions flooded my brain: how is this possible? Is it the same cancer? A new cancer? I was then informed it was a different type of cancer and they believe they removed it all, so I didn’t need chemo or radiation. After a couple days in the hospital I was back home with family that had flown in to care for me for a few weeks.
Ten Years to be Cancer-Free
A person learns a lot about themselves when they are fighting for their life. In 2019, I was cleared from all my doctors, getting checkups, blood work - and officially considered cancer free. Ever since my diagnosis, it has changed my outlook on life. I truly live every day to its fullest. I take more trips and talk to family and friends more. I don’t live to work like I used to. Instead, I work to live. I found new activities that I love doing like cycling, triathlons, mountain bike racing and backpacking. Having cancer is horrible in itself, but having cancer twice in one year is beyond imaginable.
We are so humbled to be working with Jason as he lives his life to the fullest. To hear more about his journey and follow his story you can check out his instagram!