After Checking in at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Downtown Seattle

Cancer Sucks!

Cancer Sucks! There’s no other way to say it. It had killed so many of my loved ones, including my sister. And recently, we just sent my dear brother and uncle, Joey  home to Ifalik, as he succumbed to this horrible disease. 

As I am sitting here, at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), I kept thinking of dear Joey, as he was a patient here. In fact, the first time he was admitted into the SCCA sister hospital, the Harborview Medical Center, I too was inside another hospital, the University of Washington Surgery Pavilion on  campus recuperating from my own surgery. They took out a football size tumor from my left thigh. Luckily, there were no cancer cells found in it, but I felt back then that was not going to be the end of my ordeal. 

Let me pause for a second here and give Praise to God and ask for his mercy. And also to publicly thank my brothers Augustine Yarof, Nol Tairuwemal, Clarence Tewas, Er Yaliweisei, Gid, and the many others that were there, and those that didn’t make it but offered mental and spiritual support. To our uncles and aunties, specifically JR & Inasia, our sisters Caspera, Helen and Grace, and to our dear families of Joy and Betsy and last but not the least to our uncle Stan and family, aunty Carleena and the kids, and their entire family of Unanu. I wouldn’t leave out our nephews and nieces, grandkids, friends and colleagues that carried the load of work for our loved one. We, Augustine and I, owe you all a ton of gratitude for making it so much easier for us. We did everything that we could possibly do. Again, praise God for his compassion and grace and for being there with our entire families of Ifalik and Unanu as we came together to mourn and to reflect on the legacy of our beloved Joey.

I must also give a huge shout out to our St. Vincent De Paul parish, Patrick and his team, Father Mike, and Katie for an awesome service. It was comforting to know there’s a community you can rely on in times of need. You all exceeded my expectations. Thank you!

Brother and uncle Henry Yangir, words cannot describe how much we appreciated your steadiness and even handedness in everything that we faced, together as a family. I cannot ask for a better partner in getting things to work out smoothly and with a sense of urgency. You left nothing on the table. We appreciated more than anything, the words of wisdom and advice, and especially your guidance and leadership in getting things done and done the right way. Our mission was accomplished and everything was a success. Thank you to our family on Ifalik and the Island leaders for the final arrangements.

View of South Lake Union from the 4th Floor of the SCCA
From the waiting area on the 4th floor

For all that you gave away, only God himself will have to repay you and yours. Your precious time, your money, your everything. WE LOVE YOU!

Yes, it took this long to finally bring myself to write and to say something in the public arena regarding what we did. It was tough, but God is with us and will heal our hearts as we continue to live on and carry the legacy left behind. We must carry on.

It was a very long day. Had my MRI in the morning at 8:45 AM and with my doctor at 2:15 PM. The MRI showed that the tumor had come back in the same exact area where they took the other one out from. Although it is smaller, it is still a concern and surgery will have to be done to take that out. And a possibility of some kind of radiation therapy/treatment to hopefully stop the cell from regrowing. This is something I will have to debate with myself, my family and my doctor.

Radiation? Scary proposition for sure, but the question becomes, is it worth it?

Let me make something clear. It is very scary to be in my situation where cells are going crazy in my body, but the comforting reality, at least a bit of it, is that there seems to be a small chance of finding cancerous cells, the really bad ones. As of now, looking at the MRI, all we, my doctor and I saw was fatty cells growing out of control. He’ll bring the findings to his team of doctors so they can debate and come up with the best treatment options for my case. One thing very clear though, is that I will be going under the knife again so they can remove the tumor itself from my thigh.

Now let me tell you my hypothesis. Long time ago, in the summer of 1993, fresh from Guam with a lighter skin and everything, on my island of Ifalik, I went fishing. With a short on, a very very short short short short! It almost looks like a bikini that I now think back on it. Not sure why I did that, but it happened. Spent the whole day fishing and enjoying the crystal clear skies and water. Little did I know, I am exposing the skin on my thighs to extreme radiation from the sun. The next morning I felt pain in both of my thighs and both looked like fried chicken, very very orangey reddish in color. Crazy color and the smoothness was something else. I cannot forget the pain! It was terrible. I had many sunburns before that, but the pain was nothing like that one. That time, my thighs were fried well. And am sure, it all led to what is happening to me today. So please, take care of that body of yours.

Life is short, let’s all live it to the best and enjoy it to the fullest. 

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