Name: Steve Rubin
Age: 29 later this month
Hometown: Victoria, BC
What was your diagnosis? Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
What school did you attend? UVic BSc Geography
What is your career goal? I work in an adventure sport industry. My goal is to innovate and teach cutting edge safety systems for the sport.
What is your occupation? I am a kiteboarding instructor and work for a kiteboarding brand. I also co-own a yoga studio, and yoga retreat business.
Your cancer experience:
How did you find out you were sick? What led to your diagnosis?
We were hosting a Yoga retreat, and there was a massage therapist there. She gave me a massage and told me that I had a lump in my neck that I should pay attention to. I had no other symptoms at the time.
What year was it? What was your age at the time? 2011, I had just turned 27.
In which hospitals were you treated?
BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Island Centre in Victoria and Vancouver, and Vancouver general hospital.
At what level of education were you at diagnosis?Bachelor of Science
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
Why me? How long do I have? Why not that crack head street person?
How did your family react?
My family was in absolute shock. I had a very healthy lifestyle, and was very physically active my whole life. No one saw this coming.
How did your friends react?
Everyone reacted differently. Some close friends were no where to be found for a year, while other less close friends were there for me everyday!
What did your treatment consist of?
I had chemo every two weeks for six months, then six months later was diagnosed with a recurrence of the disease. I had two more months of harder chemo, a stem cell collection, a week of high dose chemo, and finally a stem cell transplant. I managed pretty well.
One of the hardest parts for me was my bad reaction to the huge dose of steroids including dexamethasone. I wasn’t myself for a while, and it really scared me. I was told to stay out of the ocean, which was also really hard on me, until one day I got back in the water. Everything started looking up from then on.
What is your current medical status? Remission!
How is life different for you now?
I could easily write a book in response to this question. The short answer is that I’m doing what I love everyday, and loving my friends and family more than ever.
What was the toughest part of your challenge?
Being in the hospital for a month without leaving the floor I was on was very challenging. I was so sick, and there was nothing anyone could do for me. I was a mess!
What was the best lesson you took away from your challenge?
Don’t sacrifice any time on things you don’t want to be doing. Find what you love, and do it everyday!
What really motivated you to keep going while you were sick?
For me it was the freedom from suffering and being nervous while I was kitesurfing. It’s like a reprieve from the day-to-day stress of being ill.
What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now? Have they changed since before your diagnosis?
I am praying every day to be one of the long-term success stories, but I’ve also learned a lot about managing my expectations, and being happy with whatever happens next.
What are some preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours?
Manage your expectations. My struggle with “why me?” ended when I figured out the real question: “Why not me?” Do what you love without sacrifice! You won’t be able to do it forever, so enjoy it today.
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
InspireHealth is an amazing organization; I attended acupuncture to combat the effects of chemo weekly. They also offer lots of other great support groups and classes. But for me, the best healing was in the water and on the beach with my friends.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada?
A friend of mine told me about her sister’s experience with Leukemia, and how much she loved YACC.
Click here to read more about Steve!