Featured Fighter – Stephen Heaviside

 In Current Blog

June 18, 2015
By: Stephen Heaviside

BASIC INFO:

Name: Stephen Heaviside
Age: 36
Hometown: Manchester, England/now in Orange County, CA
Occupation: Barista/Musician
Diagnosis: Testicular cancer
If you were a professional boxer or wrestler, what would your name be?
Stephen Hart, as a nod to my favorite pro wrestler growing up, Bret Hart. (And no, I’m not just saying that because this is a Canadian website!)

HIS FRIGHT:

I was diagnosed in December of 2013. I originally went to the doctor for a horrible testicular injury and before I knew it, a urologist was telling me it might be cancer. I struggled through Christmastime completely uncertain of my future. After ultrasounds and blood work, the day after Boxing Day, the urologist said: “It’s cancer.” That past spring, I had attended my grandfather’s funeral in my hometown. One of my cousins at the funeral was Karen; perfectly healthy and full of life as far as I knew. A few months later, she was gone, thanks to ovarian cancer. Although I had researched and read that testicular cancer was easily treatable and survivable, I also found that ovarian and testicular were both germ cell tumors. I was pretty terrified at the time. Cancer felt like a schoolyard bully who had finally figured out that my family had a weak spot and I was next.

HIS FIGHT:

I had an orchiectomy on New Year’s Eve 2013 and thought that would be the end of it. But, scans later showed that my cancer had spread and that it was apparently moving very aggressively and quickly. Instead of the usual 3 cycles of BEP chemo, I would have to endure 4. During my first cycle of chemo, my white blood cells dropped to almost nothing and I ended up being rushed to the emergency room with neutropenic fever. I was hallucinating, having fever dreams, seeing things. My sister, brother-in-law and even the people at the ER had frightened looks on their faces when they saw me. This was during week 3 of my chemo treatment and I had so much more chemo to go. That night, I didn’t know if my body would be able to take it and I honestly wondered to myself if chemo would end up killing me before cancer did.

FIGHTING HIS FRIGHT:

After starting chemo, I had difficulty concentrating. I tried really hard to be present during my conversations with people and to distract myself with movies and books, but I found myself zoning out a lot. The one thing that held my focus was when I would work on a song. So I would try to write songs to get me through the day: songs about dealing with cancer, going through chemo, dealing with a break-up while all this craziness was happening to me, my future, how my life was changing, etc. Soon I realized I had a whole album’s worth of songs I was writing and it became my therapy, my daily routine, my journal, my passion project, my thing to look forward to when chemo was over, my everything. A lot of nurses, friends and family members were always amazed at how positive I stayed during chemo, but without music, family, friends and meeting fellow survivors thanks to Stupid Cancer, there’s no way I could have kept that positivity afloat.

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