A young man shares his courageous fight against blood cancer and the subtle flu-like symptoms that led to his diagnosis, including fatigue and loss of appetite.
Michael Cramer, a 21-year-old from Miami, Florida, US, received the devastating news of his cancer as a teenager in July 2020, embarking on a challenging journey to achieve remission.
Initially, Michael dismissed his symptoms and continued to enjoy his life, indulging in his passion for windsurfing and sailing. However, his health rapidly deteriorated, and a few months later, a doctor’s visit unveiled the grim diagnosis.
Tragically, Michael’s own father, Patrice Cramer, 61, had succumbed to lymphoma in May 2016, further intensifying his battle against the disease.
“When I first heard the word ‘cancer,’ I was shocked,” Michael shared with NeedToKnow.co.uk. “It was devastating to hear the word ‘lymphoma’ because that’s what my father passed away from.”
Despite the disheartening news, Michael and his family remained positive and resilient, determined to overcome the challenges ahead. However, upon conducting his own research, he discovered that the survival rate for his type of cancer was a mere 15%.
Motivated by his father’s memory, Michael fought with unwavering determination to survive, refusing to subject his mother and siblings to another loss.
Unfortunately, the cancer treatment took a toll on his body, resulting in lasting complications. Following intense chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, irradiation, and radiation, Michael developed Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD), a condition where the donor’s stem cells attack the recipient’s body.
“The disease is now chronic for me, and I will live with it for a very long time,” Michael revealed. “The treatment has caused severe damage to my bones and joints, resulting in osteoporosis and avascular necrosis. Daily tasks, such as working out or climbing stairs, have become extremely challenging.”
Fortunately, after three months of chemotherapy, Michael achieved remission. However, his focus has now shifted towards managing GVHD, which necessitates ongoing treatments, including extracorporeal photopheresis and immunosuppressants.
Despite the hardships he has endured, Michael acknowledges the positive aspects that emerged from his diagnosis. He met his girlfriend, Suzie Lima, 20, during his cancer journey, and he has developed a newfound appreciation for his mother’s unwavering support.
Moreover, Michael draws motivation from his siblings, Jennifer, 19, and Steven, 23, as he strives to protect them from experiencing further loss.
Although he continues to face daily pain and challenges, Michael remains grateful for being alive and living in remission. He emphasizes the importance of cherishing loved ones, pursuing happiness, and expressing gratitude for one’s health.
Michael concludes by urging others to make the most of life, appreciate what they have, and not compare themselves to others. He reminds everyone to tell their loved ones how much they are cherished and to embrace a fulfilling and grateful outlook on life.