(Oranjestad)—The world celebrated World Cancer Day this past Saturday. This is a day to raise awareness and prevention for a disease that many lose their lives to and that others overcome and keep fighting.
Jerwin Giel is a young man who around 8 years ago, had to confront the hardest challenge of his life when he was diagnosed with cancer. In an interview with Bon Dia Aruba, he shared his story and provided in sight on his life after his fight with testicular cancer at a young age.
Giel said that everything started with a simple back pain. He was in and out of the doctor’s office and received many medications for this pain, but nothing seemed to work.
After that, he realized that his sperm production became scarce, and during one of his usual work outs, he felt a pain he had never felt before. In that same week, Giel said that he went to the doctor and explained his entire dilemma. “When the doctor assessed me, his eyes widened after I told him I had been experiencing back pain for several months now,” he said.
He continued by saying that his general practitioner sent him to Dr. Moreta and asked him to do some blood work and make a CT scan of his back. However, Giel, young and rebellious, did not follow through with all his orders.
“I still remember the date, 13 or 16 of December I was in class and Dr. Moreta called to ask where I was. He told me to go to the hospital and take some pictures and bring them to him. That’s when I knew that something was off,” he remarked.
After taking his pictures, he went by the doctor’s office and that is where he received the news that he had stage 3-4 testicular cancer. “I told him to tell my family, because I’m a joker, and they wouldn’t believe me if I told them,” He indicated.
Giel explained that at the same time, the doctor told him to get ready to go stay in the hospital, as they would be operating the next day to remove the tumor. After his operation, Giel spent Christmas with his family at home and had to undergo chemotherapy treatment the next week.
Every chemo cycle took 21 days, and Giel had to undergo 4 in total. He indicated that for 5 days straight, he had chemo. During those 5 days, he had to stay in the hospital and receive three bags of chemo. Fridays were always the hardest.
“I always look for the good in bad situations, and I found out that on chemo day they give you whatever you want to eat, so that became something I looked forward to. It was a way to make it bearable,” he recalled.
He shared that his body did not react badly to the first two rounds of chemo. He did however start to feel sick during the third cycle. He noticed his hair falling out and his lack of energy. “The chemo was so strong that I would taste it in my mouth and smell it whenever I went to the bathroom. It kills the bad cells, but also the good ones,” He added.
In terms of the physical effects of the chemo, he said that he felt them right away. From his first day of chemo, he noticed that his ears started ringing, like a firework went off right next to you. To this day, he still experiences this ringing.
“I see it as selective hearing now. Whenever I don’t want to listen to someone, I just pretend that I can’t hear them. Again, trying to see the good in all this,” Giel said.
He remembers the first time his hair starting to fall off. He recalls that he was in class, and he decided the same day to shave it off. Giel told the newspaper about one of his fond memories during the new year, where they let him light a firework outside the hospital parking lot. “During the process, I would see the positive and I stayed a happy person on the outside, but inside I was actually becoming miserable,” he remarked.
After he finished chemo, Giel shared that he thought he was done, but two days later he was informed that he had to go to The Netherlands to operate. They did not tell him what type of operation it was in Aruba, but he found out when he arrived in The Netherlands.
“They told me that they would have to open me up to remove all of my lymph nodes, because they had became a teratoma. That meant that they found teeth, hair, nails etc.,” he stated.
Giel remarked that right before he entered the operation room, he cried for the first time. “I cried a lot, and I just couldn’t stop, no matter how hard I tried. The nurses asked me to calm down, but I was hysterical; I just had to let everything out.”
Giel highlighted that even though he told his journey from his perspective, with a strong and positive mindset, he remarks that he could not have gone through it all without his supportive system. “I will forever be grateful for God and their help. I want to be inspiration for others. With a strong mindset, you can face any obstacle that comes your way.”