Generally, the early twenties are spent interviewing for your first big job after graduating from university, dating, traveling, meeting new people, trying new things, exploring new passions, and accomplishing new goals. It’s a special and transformative time in life. Though for Luis it has been a different experience.
His early twenties have entailed fighting Head and Neck Cancer twice, dating while battling cancer, trying to work while undergoing intense post-operative treatments, as well as beginning a Masters Program in Health Administration. His new goal is to give back and help other cancer patients. Fortunately, he was willing to answer a few questions to provide insight and hope for other young patients and their loved ones.
What are the most frustrating or most difficult aspects of battling your type of cancer?
“The most frustrating part of it is what I have to lose if the treatment does not work. I have always been a really outspoken person and an extrovert so having a tumor on my vocal cords and the only curative option being a salvage laryngectomy is what frustrates me the most.”
What are the most surprising or positive aspects of your cancer battle?
“The most surprising aspect of it is the angels that life has brought to my life. Some people leave your side since they can’t cope or project their feelings onto you, but others appear and watch over every step of this bumpy hike.”
What has helped you navigate treatments, dreadful side effects, and managing your day-to-day?
“When life gets tough I look for reasons to be grateful and count my blessings. I’m young, but there are other patients that can’t even afford to have hope with this terrible disease. Hope helps me day today and my dear guardian angel pup known as Kanelo.”
Has hope or a positive mindset played a role in your battle with HNC and/ or did anyone provide you hope?
“It’s a combination of all three. I meet Alyssa and seeing how she has been battling this disease and still have a positive mindset while continuing with her life goals has definitely inspired me to keep a positive attitude. As a young patient in my 20’s it has been difficult to relate to other people my age. It is also hard to meet people that understand or try to comprehend the struggle of going through cancer treatment. But people like Alyssa shine a bright, warm light that helps clear the path through the darkness.”
What would you have wanted someone to have expressed to you when diagnosed and/ or what would you tell anyone battling your type of cancer now?
“There will always be better days ahead. Cancer is not a death sentence. Positive thoughts attract positive outcomes so count your blessing and like we say in PR “Para atras nose mira ni para coger impulso”.
I am truly honored to know Luis Miguel and call him family. His optimisitc spirit, sense of humor, strength and tenacity to keep moving forward is INSPIRING. I believe his perspective and experiences battling HNC will help other young Head and Neck Cancer patients. Do not lose hope.