My Journey with a Rare, Aggressive Bone Cancer
by Steve Rubin
“Rare and deadly.” Not exactly the two words you want to hear describe your recent cancer diagnosis. It was 2016, and I was thirty years old, about to be married, and earning a good living as a recruiting manager in New York City. Then, just like that, osteosarcoma – a rare and aggressive bone cancer – came along and changed everything.
With what seemed like no other choice, I came to terms with the devastating blow and set out for treatment, which included a year of chemotherapy, as well as a major surgery. Then, only three months later, I learned that my cancer had metastasized to my lungs and I had a less than 10-percent survival rate.
I reverted to the approach I took when starting out as a recruiter: finding the top performers – or in this case, other cancer survivors who had overcome particularly grave situations – and then soaking up everything I could from them.
Those were the cards I was dealt. As you might imagine, I was completely overwhelmed and paralyzed with fear. The doctors offered a few clinical trials with low success rates and painful side effects, but I wasn’t in love with that option. I reverted to the approach I took when starting out as a recruiter: finding the top performers – or in this case, other cancer survivors who had overcome particularly grave situations – and then soaking up everything I could from them. I scoured the internet for books and websites by cancer survivors and found doctors who were familiar with holistic healing methods. Then, I locked in on all the details.
Initially, I was operating on blind faith, just keeping my head down, and doing the best I could each day. It took a while for me to gain confidence and trust my own decisions. I learned some lessons the hard way, others through constantly assessing and fine-tuning my routines, but eventually I began to find my way.
Right now, I have about a year of clear scans behind me. I still have my guard up and experience just as much “scanxiety” as any other cancer fighter, but I’m grateful for the good results. It’s taken full commitment, every single day being focused on my new health and wellness priorities.
If you’re reading this while in a dire situation similar to mine, understand that we all have unique circumstances and resources, but I’m a real person who also had his back against the wall. I felt like I had no place to turn and was terrified of losing everyone I cared about. I’ve been where you are. Fortunately, I’ve had an incredible support system of family, friends, doctors, and surgeons who have helped me get this far. Far enough to become a believer that I am persevering in spite of the less than 10-percent survival rate for my particular cancer. And far enough to where I now get to support others like you, those needing to challenge their idea of what is possible.
So, put in the work. Keep learning and adapting. Be kind to yourself. And remember to do the best you can, one day at a time.
At just thirty years old, Steve Rubin was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive bone cancer. The journey has taken him through chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, and many different avenues of holistic health. An avid blogger, Steve shares his personal health regimens, as well as his love of music, movies, and sports in his writing. You can connect with Steve on Instagram (@steve_othercword), Twitter (@othercword), and his website (othercword.com).
This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, May/June 2020.
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