Why I won't be shaving on November 30

Today is the first of November, or as it's come to be known "Movember," a month dedicated to raising awareness of men's health issues. Last November, many of my male friends grew their facial hair during "No Shave November" as a sign of support for me. I've always been hairy, but at the time, I was hairless and unable to grow any hair whatsoever, let alone a beard. Just two months prior, I had been diagnosed with Stage IV Gastric Cancer and had lost every hair on my body from the chemotherapy treatments I was receiving every two weeks. I was a healthy 30-year-old male with no family history, and found myself battling stomach cancer.

While gastric cancer isn't as prevalent in the United States as other forms of cancer, it happens to be more common in men than women. It may never have its own month as large as October has become for Breast Cancer Awareness. That said, I'd personally like to use this November as an opportunity to raise awareness of men's health issues by celebrating my own.

Just last week, I completed my 21st cycle of chemotherapy, my sixth since starting back up in the fall. Like last time, my hair started to fall out and I shaved my head a few weeks ago. While I've been getting rave reviews on the no hair look, I am happy to say that I have no further chemo appointments on my calendar at this moment. So, this November, alongside my male friends, I'll be doing my best to grow back my 5 o'clock shadow, and of course some hair on my head! When November 30 comes, I'll be happy to have spent a month advocating for men's health awareness...and I'll also be happy to hold the razor and help my friends shave their beards, but I'm keeping mine.

I'll quote the doctor when he shared 'a phenomenal report!' 

Most of the tumors in the liver are GONE and the few remaining are significantly smaller. The stomach lining is still enlarged, but the initial tumor causing the pain is not seen as well. The plan going forward is for continued treatment with longer intervals between treatment, and another scheduled scan in March. At that time we will then dig further into the stomach, and address it in it's own way. 

Bottom line is AWESOME news. We are winning in a way this oncology team has never seen before. We are quite literally redefining the approach to cancer. A lot to think about but the path we are on is working and I'm not changing that until we win. And we will win. 

You are a big part of this incredible story, and we are defying medical odds with how we are doing. This is not over, but with your continued support, positivity, and love, there is nothing we can't accomplish. I love you and am forever grateful for having you into life. 

Hey guys, wanted to share what I was hoping to do with the 'Smiles' section of the blog. 

Knowing people are wearing wristbands in support of my battle gives me a smile and strength, so the Smiles section is going to be dedicated to YOU sharing your photos of wearing them (or putting them on something). Please have fun with this!

If you have a photo, please send to smilesforniles@gmail.com, and if you want a wristband please send an email through the 'Contact Me' section of the blog and include your address.

Have fun sharing your photos, it means a lot to me!
The memories we share, and my excitement for the memories we have yet to make, inspire me to fight on during this difficult chapter.