9. Timothy Lawson on Overcoming Cancer As a Teen
When most boys are choosing their education path and graduation Timothy was having Chemo and overcoming Cancer. This young man demonstrated courage, faith and encouraged others. He shares how to get through cancer and some great tips to help your loved ones along the journey.
Timothy lives in The District of Columbia. He has lived in about a dozen different places over the last 10 years but came from the Greater North West. He spent about 5 ½ years in the Marine Corps, serving as a marine security guard.
He is just finishing his degree in broadcast journalism. He started a business with Lawson Entertainment that revolves around a podcast network.
Timothy had a blog and a friend suggested he turned it into a podcast. He then became involved with Veteran Empire and started doing a podcast with them. He then started Lawson Entertainment and a few podcasts.
He often talks about Veterans on interviews but rarely about his own near-death experience. He is pretty transparent about his life, and he likes to share the experiences he has, and share them with people.
His father was in the military and kept being stationed where he grew up. He never really experienced a true military life or moved. One morning, he woke up, he was a senior in high school;17 years old, did a little stretch and found a golf size lump come out from under his collarbone.
He went to his mom, and she panicked and thought it was a cyst. Something told him it was cancer and more serious than not. An ultrasound confirmed it was. He then had surgery to remove it, and after was told it was Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He remembers watching his mom hang her head in worry, and said casually, “Mom I have cancer, but was still hopped up on painkillers. At first, he was optimistic, and only said he felt lazy, perhaps from being a teenager. It was hard to imagine he had cancer because he felt physically fine, and was break dancing and being a normal teenager.
I asked if his optimism may have helped him to have a successful recovery. He is sure it had something to do with helping his body tolerate the effects, and recover. He would be interested in seeing the results of a study, to see if there is any correlation between an optimistic mindset with recovery.
He sat down with an Oncologist and another doctor. They talked about Hodgkin’s and found out he was stage 2. They found another tumor of a much smaller size in his chest and cancer cells in his chest and in his abdomen. They believed that a few cycles of chemotherapy would take control of the cancer cells, and some radiation would reduce the size of the tumor.
Being the optimistic teenager he was, he was like yea, let’s do this. Thankfully he was under his father’s medical insurance and it was mostly covered.
They rolled with three cycles of chemotherapy and then one month of radiation. One cycle was two visits.
“It’s not like I could call up many of my friends and ask them what Chemotherapy was like”
The few people he could ask, he wasn’t sure his experience would be the same. He started to understand why his friends and family were so shocked and he was young in comparison to most of the people getting treatments.
He had a chicken wrap from the hospital cafeteria before his treatment, and then he felt nauseous for at least a year after his treatment, every time he thought about eating a chicken wrap. He had associated how he felt from the Chemotherapy treatment to the chicken wrap.
The week of Christmas, he was receiving Chemotherapy. He watched a guy walking around with an iv tower. He followed the iv down and seen a kid receiving Chemotherapy, being rolled around on the pole by his Dad. He didn’t seem to care, wasn’t making a peep and was just looking around.
It was really tough. It removed any doubt about the impact this made on his life. This was a great example that the way you approach your problems is really important. It made Timothy feel he could make it if this young kid could. He tells us this may have been the most powerful moment of all.
They told him his cancer was good, but he could do one more set of Chemotherapy if he wanted to. He decided to go to the month of radiation and move on.
People are taken back by the fact that Timothy is a cancer survivor. He wants to make sure that it is not where the bar is set for his accomplishments, and he wants to make that seem secondary to anything else he does. It has been one of the biggest drives for him personally.
Timothy found gratitude in his experience. He was grateful that he went through such a great challenge at such a young age.
POSITIVE MEMORIES WITHIN A NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE
Timothy would have died without treatment yet he tells us that all of his memories are positive because of all the fun he was having with his friends. He has funny stories of how cancer got him out of a speeding ticket, and he got out of trouble at school because of Cancer.
It has had a positive influence on how he has approached life. He does like to talk about it because there was so much optimism and there was such a positive energy flow coming out of it, that he is truly grateful for the opportunity to go through.
At 19:25 he shares a hilarious story of how he escaped a speeding ticket because he was on the way to receive Chemotherapy. The officer asked him the golden question, “Son, what is your hurry?” So, Timothy told him he was on his way to receive treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. His car had Navy stickers on it as well, and lucky for Timothy, he got away without a hefty ticket.
His friends were really comforting and sympathetic. Some people don’t know how to respond to a friend that has cancer. They want to make a connection and resonate with you, and sometimes they would share stories of a family member that died of cancer.
Now, Timothy saw why they did this, as a way to connect. He conditioned his friends to know what he needed, and they never treated him any different. If he needed a favor for a particular reason, they were quick to respond, but they never went out of their way to do something for him, they wouldn’t have done before.
Looking back at pictures, he can see that he looked unhealthy, and he is really impressed that his friends were able to treat him as good as they did. It shows the type of character that all of his friends had at the time.
His parents upped his allowance, so he could have fun. He couldn’t have a job, so his parents would give him a little extra so he could see a movie.
HOW TO TREAT SOMEONE THAT IS ILL OR HAS SUFFERED A TRAUMATIC EVENT
Every situation is different but, here are a few suggestions.
- Ask objective questions to show your genuine curiosity about what they are experiencing.
- Ask specific questions about things you need to know.
- Treat them the same as you would before. They are dealing with a challenge, but want to be treated as they have always been.
- Be straightforward.
If you are going through an experience yourself:
- Let people know what to expect if you are feeling sick and need to slow down, or have a specific need, tell them. Timothy would let them know that after Chemo he felt nauseous, and my sit down when breakdancing, and that they didn’t need to worry.
Timothy listened to music he liked, such as Lincoln Park and Stained, emotionally deep music.
He was a part of two church youth groups. There is a meditative power in prayer, and there was a benefit there. There was support in the groups for Timothy.
Timothy has watched his Mom battle breast cancer and his Dad battle prostate cancer. It is different for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience.