I am the 11% (15)

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A lot of you have asked me what the outlook is and what my odds are. Well, you’ll get two different answers depending on who you ask. If you ask me, I’ll be back to my old self and working out like crazy by Christmas to try and get my body back to where it used to be. I miss having muscles and I’m already tired of being called skinny. If you look up the 5-year survival rate on the American Cancer Society website, it says I have an 11 percent chance of being alive five years from now. 11 F*%&#&G PERCENT. Place your bets. I know who I’m going with.

If you want my opinion. It’s absurd. There is no chance that cancer will take anything more from me (except my colon in a few months, but that’s unavoidable). I’m done. Cancer can and will not quell my resolve, it will not shatter my hopes, it will not diminish my dreams, it will not suppress my positive attitude, and it sure as hell will never conquer my spirit or rob me of those that I hold dear to my heart.

So, there it is.

So what if I’m sitting here and really crying about this for the first time right now, I’ll be done by the time it’s published.

I am a Gladiator.

I am the 11%


7 thoughts on “I am the 11% (15)

  1. Hey Zach,

    Fellow Mizzou grad student here (though I’m in the TrumanSchool for my MPA) and I’m someone who you probably don’t know from anywhere, but a friend from undergrad at Mizzou shared your Facebook page yesterday and I just read your 11% post and got the “feelys” as you say.

    I too am a %. I became a % my senior year of high school after losing my voice (literally…couldn’t speak above a whisper) and found out it was because I had cancer – lymphoma to be more precise. I had a real life Little Mermaid moment actually from this mass that was growing so quickly at the base of my neck in fact, that I had to schedule surgery right away to cut open to free my airway. (I have words for you, Ursula!) I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, got a port in my left shoulder, went through chemo and radiation all while my friends picked out prom dresses. It was awful, but you know what got me through it, oddly enough? School. It was stressful keeping up with the work, but I made it a point to not only graduate with my class but also to keep my Honor roll grades because it was senior year and no way was I going to let “a little bit of cancer” stand in the way. Chemo sucked. I lost all my hair. I slept so much I was tired of sleeping. I never was nauseous though, like you they pumped me with so many drugs to stop nausea I wouldn’t even know (bless those nurses)! Radiation sucked too. I was burned, putting on a bra and shirt was my own equivalent of hell and everyone telling me I should freeze my eggs was just something no 18 year old should have to think about while preparing for freshman year of college. But I was 90%. In fact, I still am 90% -13 yrs in remission coming up this Feb.6th!

    My % doesn’t end there though. My 90% turned to 10% in 2014 when I was diagnosed with Lemierres Syndrome. “Not cancer!” I thought, “what a relief!” “But why haven’t I heard of it?” Worse yet…why hadn’t my doctors heard of it?! It’s the “forgotten disease”. It is caused by an infection in the neck that travels through your jugular vein and predominantly affects your lungs. Specifically, it causes clots – pulmonary embolisms and makes it extremely painful to breathe or even move. Within 48 hrs I had temperatures of 104 degrees, was put on a vent and landed myself in the heart of the ICU with a picc line, a chest tube (the worst pain of my life far surpassing bone marrow from cancer years back) and nearly a zillion different antibiotics blasting into my veins to stop me from spiraling into septic shock. I legit don’t remember much of any of those days I was intebated aside from needing constant suction so I didn’t gag on my own spit. Gross. Terrifying. The equivalent of what I imagine hell to be. I was in the hospital 2 1/2 weeks and then had home health for 2 months (the picc line stayed in my arm that whole time so I always had 3 tubes available for blood draws, antibiotics, heparin and saline flushes). So what did I do? (Aside from cry, which I did both points of my life “events” with reckless abandon a handful of times). I applied for grad school.

    I think that’s why I am compelled to write you. The percentage I’ve always focused on was not what some medical test spit out, it was what I knew I could do through learning. Still is.

    Once you’ve had a chronic disease (or two), I think you get this surreal determination. It’s up to you to choose what you do with it. And from your bio, you’re doing great things already! No doubt you will one day change more than one % in your career!

    Keep focused, my friend. You’re only a fraction of the way into this fight, but you’ve got a lot more than 11% in my book!

  2. 11 is just a number. it does not take into consider the particular situation or the person. imho… it is bs for people to react to. don’t bite. stay strong.

  3. My mom was 77 years young when she got colon cancer. She actually had it for a few month because her doctor misdiagnosed her as having siliac or something. Anyway, she did her 4th round of chemo and it nearly killed her. She said “NO MORE! I can’t live the rest of my life sick and miserable. No more chemo. If I die then so be it.” That was 5 years ago. She never has gained the weight back but, dang, the woman is 82 years old! She works in a school cafeteria everyday for 4-6 hours each day. She’s amazing. 11% is just talk! Not real. Don’t listen to it!

  4. Zach,

    Cancer survivors prove the odds wrong all the time; you are a person, not a number. You have the survivor’s mind set. Good luck and thanks for sharing. Your warrior resolve will get you through this.


  5. Zach I saw your post on Lori (comment above) page. I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2010, had the bag for 8 months and had a reoccurrence in 2012 which put me in that % as stage 4. I am 3 years NED since last treatment and plan yo stay that way with God’s Grace. Happy to talk with you anytime you’d like

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