Kouichi is a father, environmental activist, local community leader, editor and Hodgkin lymphoma survivor from Brooklyn, New York. He was diagnosed after discovering a growth on his neck and going to the doctor for testing. Immediately after his diagnosis, Kouichi went to YouTube and watched as many videos as he could on Hodgkin lymphoma. His treatment involved chemotherapy every two weeks for five and a half months. At first, Kouichi was concerned and anxious because he was unsure of what the outcome of treatment would be. However, it soon became clear that the treatment would be effective against his cancer.
Kouichi faced unique challenges as a father of a young child during his cancer treatment. His son, who was four and a half years old when Kouichi was diagnosed, was too young to understand that his father had cancer. He did not understand that he could not hug Kouichi on his left side due to a port installed in his chest. “Children can tell when their parents are in pain and one of the problems with cancer is that there is a lot of pain for a long time.”
He has advice for other young parents coping with a cancer diagnosis: “Take everything in treatment seriously. I did not miss any appointments. I was never late to any appointments. I followed all the rules, all the things that were advised to me, to the letter.”
Community was very important to Kouichi during his treatment. He says, “To get through it, you need others.” His wife was very helpful and his sister-in-law traveled from Tunisia during the summer to help with their son while he was on break from school. “Nothing is self-made. There’s no self-made person. You need to be able to learn how to tap into other resources and ask people for help when you’re in a situation like cancer.”
Kouichi decided to continue working as a copy editor during his treatment and he also found support and community at his workplace. To other people who need to continue working during cancer treatment, he says, “Be communicative with the people who need to know that you’re going through what you’re going through, but you don’t necessarily have to share with everybody, because not everybody needs to know your situation.”
Maintaining his physical health was also very important to Kouichi during his treatment and continues to be important in his life as a post-treatment survivor. He prioritizes physical activity, staying hydrated and eating fresh fruits and vegetables. This is especially helpful for coping with the fear of recurrence, a challenge that many post-treatment survivors experience.
Kouichi also acknowledges the importance of emotional health during and after cancer treatment. He was referred to CancerCare after his diagnosis and set up an appointment for free one-on-one counseling as soon as he could. He says, “Don’t survive cancer alone. It takes a support network to survive cancer, so create your support network and you’re not in it alone.”
Kouichi’s experience as a post-treatment survivor also gives him a unique perspective. Surviving cancer was especially important to him because he wanted to live to see his son grow up. He learned to prioritize surviving cancer over other personal and professional goals. He says, “All the things that you want to enjoy in life are going to be there when cancer is over.”