At 22 years old, most young people are thinking about maybe their last year of college, what kind of job they’ll land, probably about their career choice and the partner they’ll spend their life with…. some probably dream of continuing on in school and making their fortune with some sort of post graduate degree. Some may be considering their current job in a trade, building new homes for families or contributing to the community as a volunteer, or the ultimate….serving our country in the military. But, Chad W., age 22 is considering life with cancer.
Diagnosed at age 21 with testicular cancer, it’s been a battle since, but a battle he’s fighting with courage, determination, humor and a family and friends full of love and support. After finding a lump, where it shouldn’t be, a CAT scan determined cancer was present and he went immediately from x-ray to surgery to remove the tumor and the testicle. A cancer that can be devastating to men and their reproductive abilities, Chad dealt with it. His Mom, Lori says, “he was a champion, he didn’t let it slow him down at all. He was in college at the time and the doctor told him to stay as active as possible, so he did and hasn’t let it interfere with his life” and his dreams. With plans to pursue a career as an Actuary, he has a long road ahead. But I suspect that his determination in fighting cancer, will make the journey to becoming an Actuary, seem like a kindergarten field trip.
Early this spring, the cancer had spread to his lung, seen on what are routine, frequent CAT scans. The prescribed chemotherapy would cause him to lose his thick head of hair and he was reluctant to tell his friends what was going on, but was forced to when the hair started coming out. His supportive group of friends planned a head shaving party and 30-35 people shaved their heads in support of Chad’s fight. A few of Chad’s friends, some whom he’s known since grade school, came to his photo session in support of him, heads still closely cropped or bald.
Chad says, “The pictures are great!” Showing off his new tatoo of fellow testicular cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong’s “LIVESTRONG”, he wants everyone to know about his battle now. Certainly not shying away from the camera. His family has plans to produce some sort of book about Chad’s journey and share it with the friends and family and plan to use the pictures from his session with Oldham.
Lori says to other parents dealing with kids fighting cancer, “Let them live as normally as possible. Don’t let the cancer confine them….and don’t let them hide behind the TV or stay in bed all the time. And don’t let them get the ‘poor, pitiful me syndrome.’
I never got the impression that Chad feels pity for himself, but only the will and drive to fight this and beat it…. now and forever.
UPDATE: From Chad himself:
” I was a bit hesitant at first to do the photos because I was not too sure if I wanted everyone knowing what was going on. Then I thought I really don’t care, this is who I am and what I have been doing. I thought it does not matter to me who sees or knows, it wouldn’t change anything I have done already or will be doing in the future. The opportunity to help other young males was another huge factor into doing the photo shoot. While at the shoot it was a great time. A lot of jokes and laughter was in the room so it made it an easy and pleasant experience. The pictures turned out great in my opinion. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”