As a 47 year-old Canadian man, I have endured, persevered and experienced the highs and lows of life. Nothing has awoken, terrified and impacted me more than my last 12 months of life.
A year ago one could have described my Type-A personality as self-absorbed, disconnected, driven, relentless, consumed and workaholic. I was under the influence of “more, bigger and better”.
On May 10th, 2018, I became a dad for the first time. The birth of Ella Rose Julien was a proud and impactful moment for my wife, Cortney and I. It has been a lifelong dream to have a house full of kids and this was the first step to achieving that vision.
June 5th, just three weeks after Ella took her first breath, I feared I was closer than anticipated to taking my last. A mass had been slowly growing in my neck over the last 5 months and a biopsy revealed it was a metastatic squamous cell carcinoma. I had stage 4 cancer in my left lymphoid and my left tonsil.
No gradual decent from the high of becoming a dad. I was in an emotional free-fall. My thoughts were immediately consumed with dying and of leaving my family and friends behind. What will happen to my wife, my daughter, my business. I created lists of videos I would shoot for each of Ella’s milestones. Her first steps, first day of school, tips on how to ride a bike, first love, heartbreak and marriage. And I repeatedly imagined Ella and Cortney watching the videos and hearing me say “I wish I could be there, I love you”. News that you have cancer can only be met with utter devastation.
The next four weeks were a blur as we assembled a team of doctors and we began to learn about cancer and its physical, emotional and psychological impacts. My goal was to prepare for the worst. I was a big boy so I wanted the truth of what lay ahead.