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OREM — A recently returned LDS missionary received the shock of being diagnosed with cancer and decided to face the battle with optimism and humor in his new blog.
Orem resident Sean Lee, 20, said he began feeling pain in his left side when he was in ninth grade. Lee said when he would go see a doctor, they could never find anything wrong and the pain would subside after several days so he would never schedule a follow-up appointment.
“By the time they said, ‘Give it like a week and if it still hurts, come back,’ and it would never still hurt so I would just never go back,” Lee said.
The pain continued off and on for several years, including during his LDS mission in New York City. However, doctors still couldn’t find a conclusive answer for the pain and so Lee “figured it was nothing.”
Lee returned home from his mission on Feb. 4 and lost 14 pounds in two weeks. As a result, on March 14, he said he discovered a lump on his side that he’d never noticed before and he decided to get it tested. During his CT scan, Lee received an injection that made his “insides look like Christmas,” he wrote on his blog.
“The injection was really weird,” he wrote. “It literally felt like icy hot was pouring into my veins. At least I had a ‘hot body’ for once?”
On April 10, Lee was diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma, a very rare soft-tissue cancer, that he refers to on his blog as “this soccer ball tumor of death inside of me.” He began chemotherapy on April 14 and decided to document his experience with the blog, “I Can-Cer Vive.”
Lee uses humor and positivity to narrate his battle with cancer because he said he wants to inspire others.
“I knew this was going to be a huge trial in my life and I thought it would be kind of a waste if I kept it to myself,” he said. “At any point in your life, you can take a trial or a difficulty and go two different ways with it. Nothing is going to change and the trial is going to stay the same, but the outcome is going to be completely different. … My motto has kind of been ‘Come what may and love it.’ ”
Lee said he applied to Brigham Young University when he returned home from his mission, but he wasn’t accepted. Then, he applied for several jobs, but he said he never got any offers.
“I was pretty frustrated with myself because I didn’t know why,” he said. “But then, it was pretty clear why I wasn’t supposed to be doing anything else.”
On his blog, Lee talked about the awkward situations of having to explain to people why he isn’t going to school or working. He said he usually tries to make a joke when he explains that he has cancer, in an attempt to lighten the mood. He said sometimes it gets uncomfortable, but it usually helps to break the ice.
“I don’t mind talking about it,” he wrote on his blog. “In fact, I love talking about it. It is almost therapeutic for me. Sometimes it can be awkward for other people. When I finally drop the ‘c’ word, it is funny to see their reactions.”
Lee said he feels that everyone is facing some type of personal “cancer” and he hopes his blog will motivate and inspire others in facing their struggles.
“We all have trials, but it is my belief that we “can-cer vive” anything that life tries to throw at us,” he writes at the end of each blog post. “Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all.”