Sadly Nicolas passed away on Tuesday, August 24, 2010. We are so thankful for the contacts and chats we had with Nicolas at YACC. He was enthusiastic and was full of ideas to raise money and help other young adults in Canada. He was all about healing through expression of emotions and connections. Nicolas, we will miss you, but will remember your drive and energy in our future projects.
School: University of Toronto
Work: Before cancer, part-time at Canadian Tire
Career Goal: Naturopathic Doctor
How did you find out you were sick?
Well to be honest I thought I was just really getting out of shape. It was getting harder and harder to walk and my pulse would could crazy with any physical exertion, my left arm would even start to go numb! It got to the point where I finally couldn’t walk and my muscles spazzed out and off to the emerg I went where they rejuvenated me with four bags of blood. It turned out my hemoglobin count was at 36!
What year was it? What was your age at the time?
The diagnosis was December 27, 2008 (actually had to wake up Christmas morning alone in a hospital bed :-S) and I was 23-years-old.
At what level of education were you at diagnosis?
Three years of university
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
Honestly, I had no clue what Leukemia even meant. All I heard was there is a cure and that’s what really stuck with me.
How did your family react?
My dad burst into tears and hugged me, my stepmom left the room and cried, my brothers didn’t really know how to react but I am sure they were surprised.
What did your treatment consist of?
A week of constant and very high dose chemotherapy administered through IV.
In which hospital were you treated?
Princess Margaret Hospital, and indeed I am very grateful to be here because it has the reputation of being one of the best cancer hospitals in the world.
What is your current medical status?
Actually right now I’m at the tail end of an inpatient treatment. The docs have told me I am pretty much out of here soon though!
What is the toughest part of your challenge?
The toughest part is definitely the relapse. It hits you like a truck every time. The last time it happened it knocked me into a very dark place and I just barely pulled myself out in time. To enter a round of chemotherapy, in that state of mind, would be disastrous.
What is the best part about having your challenge?
The incredible and powerful growth I have experienced from this journey. Truly, cancer has my thanks, the person I am becoming because of this disease is who I am meant to be.
What really motivates you to keep going while you are sick?
For me I don’t really need motivation. I am in a state where really it is all actually an enjoyable process. I suppose when things do get rough, I reach out to my mom, who passed away three years ago. It may not count exactly as motivation but she is always there for me to help through the hard times.
What lessons of messages have you taken away from you experience?
You will have to read my blog Nic’s Blog! It has truly been the most incredible experience.
What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now? How have they changed before your diagnosis?
Well before I had cancer it was kind of this horrible thing that existed somewhere out there. I never thought, for one second, that I would get cancer! Of course now me and cancer are two peas in a pod. Cancer to me, or rather leukemia to a young adult, is life saying “it’s time to take action, your soul wants growth, if you do not it is time to go home”.
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?
With my perspective, cancer is not a bad thing. Of course I do not wish it on anyone, especially with our current treatments. There is so much one can do. Essentially it is this: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Exercise a lot, eat real food, spend lots of time with family and friends, get involved in what interests you, never be afraid, never doubt yourself. Give yourself the utmost respect and love because you deserve it! Most importantly be true to yourself and let yourself feel. If you bottle things it is unhealthy. Human emotion is a key to transformation and the essence of the human experience.
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge? No
If you did not attend a support group, why? There really isn’t much offered here for young adults. I may change this someday.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada?
I am fairly new to the community but I hope to become heavily involved because I believe in the necessity and help this site will bring to the masses.