(Written August 25th, 2022.) This was the day I woke up from a colonoscopy to find out that my issue was not hemorrhoids like I went to the doctor for, it was worse. Much worse. I had sacrificed 14yrs to the U.S. Coast Guard and this country. My wife and I have been married 11 years, and I have a 4yr old son which is such a blessing. He was born 3 months early and just beat the odds to grow into such an amazing little person. Finding out I have cancer today was not what I went to the doctor for and not what I expected. I tend to pray when I have issues but I don’t pray daily and I know I should. I prayed for my son to make it out alive, and I prayed today that it is not too far into cancer to make a full life ahead of me to give to my family.
I am 41 years old, just received orders to the newest Coast Guard cutter, CGC Calhoun. I am still in shock till this day and it has been very overwhelming. I wish this on no one! My cancer diagnosis ended up being Stage 3 rectal cancer. I did not have any pain or any issues that would have made me think it was cancer. I did have blood occasionally when I went to the bathroom, but at the time I knew I had a hemorrhoid that had been there for at least a few years if not longer. I thought the blood was just a result of that. Even when I was seen by a G.I, he did not even look at my butt. He just said let’s go ahead and perform a colonoscopy.
I walked out of the doctor’s office. I told my wife and my parents and we all kind of laughed at the thought. I thought that was for older people. I did not know why he suggested it but now, I know it was divine intervention leading me to the doctor and finding the cancer at stage 3 when I know I could have just ignored my hemorrhoid longer and just went about my busy, military life.
By that Friday, two days later, I already had an appointment for an oncologist. A friend of my family went with me to that first appointment. My wife stayed home with our son. All of this moved so incredibly fast that I was overwhelmed with guilt, fear, sadness, loneliness, stress, anxiety, and any other mental strain that we can have. I had a pretty good support system in place despite living away from family and friends which made it even more difficult during the times when we did not have the support. Let me tell you, all of that started eating away at my mental health. My treatment plan was to start with radiation and an oral chemo pill, followed by IV chemo, and finally surgery. As I got closer and closer to my treatments, I had been pretty positive about everything but as soon as they started, I went from a strong individual to a broken person.
I put on a good front, telling everyone I would beat this thing, but the truth is, behind the face, no one knows what truly goes through our heads. The radiation was the worst thing I had ever been through, and I literally thought God was punishing me for some choices I had made throughout my life. I knew there was no going back but I couldn’t help myself from thinking, how did this happen? Why me? Why did I deserve this?
The answer I would find out to all of this is, NO, God was not punishing me, no one deserves cancer, it was not one thing I did, there is no foolproof plan that guarantees us to live a life without getting cancer. The one and only guarantee in this life is that one day our time here will end on this earth and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Throughout my cancer battle, there were times where I laid down at night and thought I was not going to wake up. I had gone from this strong and happy person to thinking that I was ready to die. I basically gave up on myself and I gave up on life. That is about the same time I started having spiritual encounters and began asking questions to God and receiving answers to my questions. During this time, I also realized that every time I would start getting closer to God, that Satan was right there trying to bring me back down and give up on my life. I got a glimpse into hell, and when I had my near-death experience, I had a glimpse into heaven. I truly learned that I had never been alone throughout all of my life. God had always been there; I just missed the signs.
Cancer was the most eye-opening experience I have ever dealt with, and I am now so close to God and how Jesus operates, that I do not regret anything anymore. If someone told me that I was going to get cancer as a young adult and that when I beat cancer that my relationship with God and Jesus Christ was going to be so strong that nothing could ever break me again, I would have said, cool, I look forward to that. Unfortunately, that is not how God designed our lives, we have to figure this out on our own. If you do not reach out, he does not come into your life. If you do not have any relationship at all with Jesus, chances are you may not survive cancer at all.
On December 21st, I saw my own death. Through cancer, God took me throughout each and every stage of my life. As I was trapped in my office by my wife, I lost complete consciousness, I could not talk, write, think, and all I could do was tell myself not to close my eyes, right before I was about to take my last breath an enormous amount of spiritual energy started flowing throughout my entire body. Once the EMT’s got to my house, I had all my motor functions back and this overwhelming amount of calmness because I saw heaven and I knew all of this “God stuff” was real. I asked him to please let me get rid of this cancer. The next CT scans showed that no cancer remained. I still went through the surgery to make sure it did not have a good chance of coming back and just in case there was some cancer lingering around and that was another divine intervention because there was still cancer behind some scar tissue but overall, we removed my rectum, and I had a temporary ostomy bag for two months.
Nowadays, cancer has left me with a condition called Lower Anterior Resection Syndrome which has been difficult to get my life back to what it was, but it is nothing compared to cancer, and I thank God every day that I get to wake up. Now, I just want to help others survive cancer and help people maintain their mental health throughout their cancer treatments and after cancer. I am cancer free and am feeling the best I have ever felt in terms of my mindset. I always ask myself, Who Are My Angels?
By: Robert Dorchak