Sadly, Adam passed away on Friday, February 24, 2012 at 31-years-old. Saying Adam was an inspiration would be an understatement. He showed strength, courage, perseverance, resilience, and love and made us want to do the same. He touched so many and will continue to do so. Adam, you will be missed; thank you for passing in our lives.
Hometown: Winnipeg, MB
What was your diagnosis? Stage IV Cholangiocarcinoma (Liver Cancer)
What school did you attend? University of Manitoba
What is your career goal? Return to work
What was your occupation? Physical Education Teacher
Your Cancer experience:
How did you find out you were sick? What led to your diagnosis?
It’s kind of a long story. It was a process. After having my gall bladder removed in September of 2009 and several “attacks” in early 2010, it was determined that I had a rare liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholengitis (or PSC, for short). When I had my gall bladder removed, they did a biopsy and found a small tumour on my liver. They said it was benign, even in May of 2010. They kept track of it with bloodwork, and in October 2010 they said I needed to go for an MRI. The MRI revealed that I had a large tumour and a small tumour on my liver. They also said three lymph nodes appeared to be infected. I went for a liver resection two weeks later (mid-November). I was inoperable as the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. They gave me a prognosis of 12 months.
What year was it? What was your age at the time?
2010, 29 years old
In which hospitals were you treated?
Health Sciences Center and St. Boniface Hospital
At what level of education were you at diagnosis?
I have two Undergraduate Degrees: a Bachelor of Physical Education, and a Bachelor of Education.
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
It felt surreal. I became numb and couldn’t feel anything. At times I was depressed.
How did your family react?
They took it really hard. They started looking for answers right away. My dad started looking for and suggesting “miracle cures” for me.
How did your friends react?
Most were really supportive. A few disappeared.
What did your treatment consist of?
I did six months of chemo. I was lucky, I only experienced some fatigue during chemotherapy. The anti-nausea medication (ondansetron) seemed to deal with the nausea and poor appetite. I exercise a lot and go to a naturopath; I take many herbs and vitamins. I go to reiki regularly, and recently switched to a plant-based (vegan) diet
What is your current medical status?
My cancer is “stable” as of August 2011. This means that my most recent CT Scan indicates that my cancer hasn’t grown at all since April 2011.
How is life different for you now post diagnosis?
I have rebounded physically. The surgery took a toll on me; I had lost 35 pounds and have managed to gain it back through hard work that includes a strict diet and rigorous exercise. I have had a lot of time to digest and reflect on things. I feel like I’m emotionally stable. Socially, my friendships are stronger than ever. Spiritually, I have grown leaps and bounds. I started a meditation group that meets once a week, I go to Yoga two to three times a week and go for Reiki (energy healing) once every 10-14 days. I pray every morning and have a great relationship with God.
What was the toughest part of your challenge?
It’s hard to say if physically recuperating after surgery and chemo or the emotional turmoil I put myself through by constantly worrying about what was going to happen.
What was the best lesson you took away from your challenge?
I learned and now truly believe that relationships with friends and family are far more important than material possessions. I definitely don’t take anything for granted these days.
What really motivated you to keep going while you were sick?
My friends and family were great supports. I also trained for an 850 km run and bike ride called “Tori’s Run.” I trained an hour or two hour a day for three months to do the eight-day trek from Nelson House to Winnipeg, MB.
What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now? How have they changed since before your diagnosis?
I feel like I have more hope than in the beginning. I thought I was doomed because of the doctor’s original 12 month prognosis and the fact that liver cancer is incurable when diagnosed at Stage IV. I feel like I’m living a good life and doing everything I can to beat cancer.
What are some (if there are any you know of) preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours?
Because PSC is so rare and went undetected in my system for at least 14 years, I’m not sure what else I could have done. I do know that cutting or reducing animal protein from your diet can reduce the chances the cancer spreading from early stages
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge? Yes
If so, what was it like? Did you find it helped?
It was mostly women. I found them to be helpful. The YACC group was always small, but its members always shared stories of hope and inspiration.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada?
The social worker from my support group added me to the YACC mailing list. I went to Retreat West 2011 at Edenvale in Abbottsford, BC.