Loyal, strong, determined, resilient, compassionate, honest, and brave. Charles Frederick Porter II was born in Oxford England to an English mother with Jewish roots and an African American father from Annapolis, Md. Charles thrived in sports as well as academia and eventually received a full athletic scholarship to Duke University. Almost a decade later, in 2010, he was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In May of 2015, he had a relapse.
Love at First Sight
In April of 2010 I was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was thirty years old and in what I thought was the prime of my life. I was in the best shape of my life. I had recently appeared in Italian Men’s Vogue or better known as L’uomo Vogue. I had a string of Independent films in the can and national commercials airing. The momentum was in my favor but my diagnosis completely flipped the direction of my career and life on its head and I was on a journey that I had never expected. Unbeknownst to me all of the physical training and dieting that I was doing for the craft had actually prepared me for what I would face almost a year later.
I was riddled with tumors from neck to thigh and many were in my bones, breaking ribs and eating away at my spine and pelvis. We attacked the cancer with many types of chemo finally settling on one that would bring me to my knees begging for mercy. There was no other choice, I had to get a stem cell transplant and salvage chemo coupled with full body radiation would take my levels down to the point where I would be a suitable candidate for success. The transplant was a success and after my thirty day stay I was released back into the world. I was given a fresh start on life.
For days I fought back against the fatigue that this new immune system brought on to no avail. Weeks later I was able to extend my walks from five to fifteen minutes. Eventually I was up to half an hour or more. It took a full two years to get back into the gym and give it a good go at a challenging workout. My support team which was comprised of great friends ranging back to my middle school years, my family, and my then girlfriend and now wife. This team included people of many different cultures, backgrounds and religions and prayer was definitely at an all time high within my circle.
All denominations and beliefs were welcomed, needed and appreciated. My mother, who is a registered RN made sure that food, particularly berries and salmon, was at the forefront of my treatment and recovery. I truly bought into the belief that if I could move then I can heal and I made it a priority to stay as active as possible even if it were for only a few minutes during a walk. I had to stay active. I had to keep moving.
I enjoyed a brief moment in remission and had a slight set back with a relapse in May of 2015. I was told that there was a trial drug for my disease that has been having wonderful results so I gave it a shot. The plan was 105 weeks of treatment and then reassess. My first call when I was diagnosed, once again, as disease positive was to my friend and agent Joan who was also a two time cancer destroyer.
At this point my cancer circle had expanded, as they do, and unfortunately I had seen some come to an end in their journey of life. This left me with some fear, which is normal, so I sought out the encouraging words of a fighter who has lived to tell the tale. I also sought counseling from an oncology therapist. To top it off I have included the practice of meditation into my daily regiment consistently for almost a year to date. In my seven years living with this disease I have come to the conclusion that I must seek out and use every tool available in order to obtain the moments of joy that occur and that could be missed were I constantly in a fog or under the depressing cloud that can sometimes arise in our moments of doubt.
I am now at week 94 of 105. I remember how I felt when I stepped back into the clinic for treatment on week one. I am reminded because though the treatment has decreased tumor sizes or eradicated them completely, there are others who are on their first treatment of their first and hopefully only diagnosis. Those who have experienced cancer first hand know that when you see that I.V., port or bag hanging from the pole we are all in a fight for our lives. We are fighting for our loved ones, friends, careers, pets, and hopefully for our love of life. Whatever it is that gets us up to walk in and face the day and the potential side effects from this drug or that drug, we can all share in that cause.
So as I write feeling healthy and strong just having made one year as a married man and with a baby on the way, I say to us all, keep living moment by moment grateful for each day and the possibilities of tomorrow. Love the ones that love you and give it your all. Every day may not be a great day but the ones that are great are worth living.
Walk when you can walk and run when you can run. Pay attention to what you eat because as cliche as it is, your are what you eat. Seek nature and therapy as you are not alone in your anxiety or fear but there are methods to help you along the way. Of course my dream to is to finish this treatment and live a happy healthy life until my dying day but that may not be in my cards. So I will play the hand that I am dealt and play it to win. I call this post, ‘Love At First Sight’, because that is what I feel for each one in the fight whether I know you or not.
The last two treatment sessions I had I sat next to first timers and I knew there was a reason. One was by herself and she was over sixty and set in her ways, the other was a teenager and the mother was so scared. The older one was mad because her life was set in stone and this completely got in the way of her routine. I said this anger is either going to save you or kill you. She laughed. The teenager was more accepting and I encouraged her to stay positive and eat well. We both were diagnosed with the same cancer and she felt inspired by my story as did the older woman.
I saw the older woman the following week on a routine check up and she was smiling and said her numbers were down and the meds were working.The smile on her face made me smile. She accepted that this was happening to her and best not to deny but to move forward. She was settling into her new routine. That is our only choice in this matter. We Must Move Forward. It’s hard and that is okay. Life is about suffering while at the same time embracing the moments of joy whenever they appear. Much Love and Never Quit.
You can also find support from blog post, hosted segments, and book clubs at The Anti-Cancer Club.
My Instagram is cfpgram
Twitter is @neverquit
Website is charlesfporter.com
My books available on amazon.com are:
The third installation of my books of poems will be published and released 2018.
Thank you for your time and encouragement as we live this journey of life.
Reprinted with permission of Charles Frederick Porter II and Karen Ingalls, author of Outshine Ovarian Cancer.