On March 23, 2011, I was told I wouldn't live to be an old man. I was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and was told by my doctor in Colorado that I only had two to four years to live.
"But, I'm only 44. I have a 1 and a half year-old little girl. I've only been married five years," I said. "I'm sorry," the doctor responded.
Would my daughter Kaila even remember who I was? Would she know how much her daddy loved her? My wife Cinthia and I were faced with an unbearable outlook for our future. All our hopes and dreams for our family, our girls and my role in their lives were circling the drain.
Everything in me and the loved ones around us were desperate for a way to fight back. We all felt completely helpless. It just felt like, swallow your medicine and deal with it.
Amidst the darkness, we made a few plans. I have a strong faith in God and I felt he was leading us to take some steps.
Coming to MD Anderson for prostate cancer treatment
I decided to come to MD Anderson for prostate cancer treatment based on high recommendations from a few family and friends. My first appointment with Ana Aparicio, M.D., assistant professor in Genitourinary Medical Oncology, was in May 2011. I was not given false hope, but through her thorough approach and sensitive manner, she gave me something to fight for. She gave me a plan with systematic steps to my treatment. Revolutionary, no. But it was exactly what I needed.
I'm heading into three years and still going strong. I have been very receptive to the treatments, including hormone treatments, injections, a radical prostectomy and lymphectomy, which continue to buy me more time.
Giving back during cancer treatment
I also decided to film short videos about my life, detailing my beliefs, my adventures and my hopes and dreams, for my little girl. I might not be able to experience life with her in person, but she was going to know who I was and hear my advice and wishes for her life. Through these videos, I found a way to speak into the future events in her life that I might not be around for.
It's important for people like me to know we will not be forgotten, and to know that our loved ones will remember exactly how we felt about them. Creating a visual connection for loved ones to have once we are gone, can also help them through the healing process.
Because I know this is so important, I'm now giving back and helping others create their own video stories and books for their families. Last year, I started a non-profit organization called the Gift of my Story.
Giving back has allowed me to bring meaning and purpose back into a "hopeless' situation, especially during what may be the final days of my life.
MD Anderson helped me fight back, creating videos for others has helped me give back.