Billy V.'s Tips for Surviving a Diagnosis

Last March, we brought you the story of Billy V.'s battle with colon cancer. This year, we decided to follow up with him in honor of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Aloha Family!

I hope your 2018 is going well. In this last six months, my life has been about lots of love and light and doing things a little differently. For those who may not know, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Now my cancer is removed and my osteo bag has finally been taken away.

The recovery hasn't been easy. It's been all about getting used to a “new normal” — changing my diet, finding the right medication to help with discomfort, getting used to my digestive system being quite different, and listening to my body more. For a long period, there were times where if I wasn’t paying attention to my body, I would find myself scrambling for a bathroom at inconvenient places and times. If I didn't watch what I ate, I would find myself in pain or feeling uncomfortable, my body exhausted and unable to do anything.  

Together with the doctors, we've found that this “new normal” will probably be my healing journey for several years and that, hopefully, I will continue to improve slowly. Several people I know who have gone through the same thing have told me that it's taken them 8 to 10 years to get back to something they would resemble as normal.

With that said, I would love to share with you five things that continue to help me in the journey of my ongoing recovery.

Walking and Drinking More Water
This year I'm reminding myself to make time for walking and drinking more water. Especially the drink water part — I'm bad at it. It's easy to grab sugary drinks, but I'm consciously trying to drink more water. I always keep a water bottle around me that serves as the constant reminder. You’ve just got to remind yourself to WASH the bottle every couple of days, if not every day. 

Support from Co-Workers
I have been very lucky to have an organization like Hawaii News Now (HNN) behind me. Every step of the way they’ve been supportive and understanding of my condition. On those very few days where my body really kicked me hard, HNN allowed me to take time off as needed to get my body where it needed to be. Thankfully, it has only happened a few times, but from the beginning, my co-workers and “work home” of HNN have been behind me. It takes a tremendous load off of my shoulders.

The statewide “Sunrise on the Road” tour in July took us to five islands in five days and it was a rigorous undertaking. I wasn’t sure my body could hold up under the pace of it all. Luckily, I was able to keep up with the team, but when I felt I wasn’t able to, the crew stepped up to assist. I had one incident on the trip that was borderline personally embarrassing, but the crew stood right by my side and helped me. I cannot thank them enough. 

Continuing My Interests
My love for music has kept me busy and helped keep the upbeat energy, love, and light in my life. My love for Hawaiian music is one thing; my love for 80s music is another. My love for all things Star Trek and Star Wars is never ending (putting it lightly from my wife). Being surrounded by these things helps keep me positive and upbeat. And during the times when it seemed I couldn’t control the things that were happening that could have devastated and depressed anyone, my friends and close associates always helped to make sure I had my nose and toes pointed forward. 

Listening To Your Body
With the surgery and removal of the area in question (cancer and intestines), I sometimes have little warning of impending waste movement and disposal. Sometimes this means I shouldn’t eat. Sometimes I shouldn’t get in the car and get caught in traffic (especially rush hour). Sometimes I know I need to drink water or drink soup and not eat anything heavy. Sometimes I want to go walking, but I know I can’t right now. Sometimes all of my energy is drained and I need to sit or lie down.

The main thing is listening to the body. No more of the “Nah, I can…I no need pay attention to that.” I can’t do that anymore. Your body talks, and sometimes, loudly. You just need to know when it’s time to listen. 

Having Family Time
This is what I used to be the worst at. Work mattered, always. Working to get somewhere. Working to get to the top, to succeed, and to have all around me succeed. Yes, you need to work hard, but you also need to figure out when to make time for family. If you don’t, they’ll drift away from you. Especially when they’re the ones you need the most. Iʻve been spending more time helping my wife and wanting to spend more time with son. He’s 15 years old and will be college-bound soon. Family time can be so important. Having that grounding helps so much.  

I hope these tips help you to get better, get healthier, and to help you create a more positive and healing environment. I wish you and those around you much support as you continue to search for those that are positive and who will lift you up. I send you love and aloha as we go through this journey together.