His mother and grandmother were there with him in the hospital when he received the news. While he was grateful he wasn't alone, his mind immediately shifted to comforting his mom, "She took it the hardest. I didn't think about it much I just started worrying about her."
Before September life had been normal for Zach. He was a short sale representative at Bank of America, easily pulling in 50 hour workweeks. He was just shy of the cutoff for health insurance, as he had only worked there for a few months. He is currently applying for disability and Medicaid as he faces his last five treatments.
Did you ever have time to sit and think?
"Everything happened so fast, the only time I could really slow down was during my treatments."
What went through your mind?
"At first it was a lot of "˜why me' but then my attitude changed. Things started to get better and then I became more positive. Something shifted."
What was it that shifted?
"I realized that it's a life lesson, I can learn from it. Life is valuable and it's short. Everything is temporary. There's a lot to get done in this lifetime and not a lot of time to do it."
At first, Zach became reserved with his friends. It bothered him that he was seen as "˜the sick kid, the kid with cancer'. And then there was his hair.
Zach had great hair. It was unnerving to wake up and see tufts of hair on his pillow, or hair shedding onto the shoulders of his clothes. One morning he woke up and asked his mom to shave it off.
"She made it fun, I mean she was laughing in the kitchen and everything and we just did it. Part of her knew that she would have to do it at some point. But the moment that we shaved my head that was the moment that it became real, that I realized that this was happening, that I had cancer."
Another sign that he can't ignore is the way his body physically feels, "I used to be cold all the time, now my body is so hot, it feels like my insides are boiling. I guess that's the chemo working." And the chemo is working. After six treatments the cancer cells that were once in his body hardly leave a trace. After these remaining chemo treatments he may be home free and "done with all this". Zach's attitude, despite his circumstance, is remarkable. There is a calm sincerity that radiates from him. He is grateful as he feels that many facing chemotherapy have had it harder than him.
His advice? "It gets better. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, and things will change. I've been blessed through the whole process," And perhaps that's the lesson for us, that we are truly blessed to be here and have our loved ones around us, no matter what we are going through. After all, there's a lot to get done in this lifetime and not a lot of time to do it.
If you are able to contribute any way to Zach's medical bills, it will be much appreciated. He is currently facing over $50,000. Please pass this page along to your friends, colleagues, family and loved ones. Every little bit helps.
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