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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

How my Cancer Experience Inspired me to Follow my Dreams.

Written by Jason Stynes on 
28th September, 2022
Updated: 29th January, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

In this article, I am going to walk you through what my life was like on a day-to-day basis as a 19-year-old cancer patient, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

I hope to inspire others who may be dealing with a similar challenge

...and show them that no matter what, there is ALWAYS light at the end of the tunnel.

I was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma on September 24th, 2020.

In the weeks and months leading up to my diagnosis, I was preparing to sit my Leaving Certificate exams, and I was in my fourth year of wrestling training with Fight Factory Pro Wrestling in Dublin.

I never liked school, and I didn’t do too well in exams.

I found it difficult to focus while I was in school, and I would always get distracted by my surroundings or by just talking to my friends.

I started wrestling training when I was just 14 years old

...and ever since then, I’ve been able to use wrestling as my escape from reality. For a couple of hours, I didn’t need to worry about homework, school or my home life. It was just me, my friends and a wrestling ring. Then in the summer of 2019, everything seemed to take a turn for the worst.

The wrestling gym, where I train, Fight Factory Pro Wrestling, was forced to shut for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic.. This left a big gaping hole in my life, and I just felt kind of lost.

Then it was time to collect my Leaving Certificate results. We were unable to sit the exams due to coronavirus, so all students were given predicted grades based on their previous six years in school. To say that my results were bad would be an understatement. They were awful! Seeing my friends achieve brilliant results right in front of me was a pretty tough pill to swallow.

So with no wrestling for God knows how long, and with awful exam results, what would be next for me?

Well, they say bad luck comes in threes, and that couldn’t be more right at this moment.

I noticed a lump “the size of a tennis ball” in my Mam’s words underneath my right arm. At first, I thought it was no big deal. I assumed that it was just a training injury. The possibility of it being cancer never even occurred to me. My Mam’s side of the family have a history of cancer, but it’s always been a woman in the family, who was diagnosed.

The lump underneath my arm was quite painful, which gave me more reason to believe it was just a training injury, because cancerous lumps are typically pretty painless.

After about a week or two, I had still noticed no improvement, so that’s when I contacted my GP.

I went to see him a couple of days later, and I will never forget his immediate reaction, the second he saw the lump under my arm.

His face just dropped. I’m pretty sure he knew what it was right away, so he sent me into A&E the very next morning.

I will never be able to thank my GP enough for what he did. He saved my life!

The next morning (September 24th, 2020), I went to St.Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin at 8am. I still remember the entire day as if it was only yesterday.

I was in the hospital all day getting having numerous scans & tests done on my body, where doctors discovered more lumps, and  that the cancer had spread to six different parts of my body. The cancer had spread to my spleen, chest, neck, collarbone, my bone marrow, and obviously underneath my right arm. If I had have let this go any longer without getting checked, I don’t know what would’ve happened. My doctors think that I had been suffering from this possibly over a year, beforehand, which is quite scary to think about.

My family weren’t even allowed into the hospital with me, which in a way made things worse.

Eventually, later on that evening, I was called back into one of the private rooms in the hospital, where I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. Never in a million years did I think I would be diagnosed with cancer at such a young age.

This came as a massive shock to both myself and my family.

In this very moment, it was as if time stood still. This was without a doubt the longest day of my life.

The biopsy was scheduled for two weeks later.

Although, I already knew what the diagnosis was, the doctors wanted to do a biopsy to get a better understanding of what it was they were dealing with.

This day was pretty straightforward to be honest. I was put asleep for the surgery, and a few hours later, I woke up in recovery. I was in and out, all in the same day. I still have the scar to show for it.

I was called back into hospital after the biopsy results had come back, and I was told that the cancer was worse than originally thought.

Doctors were no longer confident that standard chemotherapy would work, so they wanted to put me on a much stronger type of chemotherapy called BEACOPP. BEACOPP (Bleomycin, Etoposide Adriamycin, Cyclophosphamide, Oncovin, Procarbazine, Prednisolone), is the name of a chemotherapy regimen used in the treatment of advanced-stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My oncologist pretty much told me to go home, and pack a bag, as they needed to start chemo immediately. I was warned that this form of chemotherapy may not work the first time around, and that once the six cycles were up, I may have to get radiation therapy, and possibly even more chemo after that. It seemed like I was falling down a bottomless pit.

But funnily enough, I was by far the calmest person in my family.

While my Mam and my sister were crying, I just kept asking question after question. I guess this was just my way of dealing with the shock of it all.

Recently, I just returned home from the USA, where I got to wrestle all around California.

I started chemotherapy pretty much right away after that.

The first thing I had to do before starting chemo was have a PICC line inserted in my arm. A PICC ( peripherally inserted central catheter line) line gives your doctor access to the large central veins near the heart. It’s generally used to give medications or liquid nutrition. A PICC line can help avoid the pain of frequent needle sticks and reduce the risk of irritation to the smaller veins in your arms.

I was admitted into hospital every third Wednesday night for either 3 or 4 nights undergoing chemotherapy each day. Then every second Friday, I had to get more chemo on the day ward, as well as get my PICC line cleaned. I would be aloud to go home that same day.

During this time, I was out of work, I had no money, I couldn’t wrestle, and I couldn’t even leave my house , because of the pandemic. All of my doctors didn’t want me to risk catching coronavirus, because my immune system was almost nonexistent due to all the chemo.

The pandemic affected everyone in many different ways, but for me this was absolutely the lowest I have ever felt in my life.

But once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.

So after what felt like forever, and after six rounds of chemotherapy, blood transfusions, surgeries, and many ups and downs (mostly downs), in February 2021, I finally got the call to say that I was in remission. This was the happiest I had felt in such a long time. It didn’t feel real to me.

I made a promise to myself that once I beat cancer, I would pursue my acting dream, and I would put 100% effort into acting and professional wrestling.

You can’t sit back and do nothing, because your dreams won’t chase you. You’ve got to be the one to do the chasing and go after your dreams, and that’s exactly what I’m doing!

Recently, I just returned home from the USA, where I got to wrestle all around California.

I also just got my diploma in acting for stage & screen.

Looking back on this experience now, I believe my experience with cancer, in a weird way,  may just be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I have learned that life is way too short and that you shouldn’t live life in fear.

You can’t sit back and do nothing, because your dreams won’t chase you. You’ve got to be the one to do the chasing and go after your dreams, and that’s exactly what I’m doing!

I would like to thank every single one of you who took the time to read this article, and if I have managed to help even one person, then I’ve achieved my goal!

Please remember that there is ALWAYS light at the end of the tunnel.


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