Join James and Team LIVESTRONG at the LIVESTRONG Challenge Davis, June 23, 2013. Whether you run, ride or tri in 2013, just do it with Team LIVESTRONG. Visit www.teamlivestrong.org for more information.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is James Arriola and I am from Hayward, CA. It’s about 30 miles south east of San Francisco and about 15 miles south of Oakland. Hayward is located in the East Bay.
In what Team LIVESTRONG event are you participating?
I am captain of Team Disco Inferno and am participating in the LIVESTRONG Davis Event. I have participated in all LIVESTRONG Challenge events in San Jose and the past 2 in Davis. I chose to join the LIVESTRONG Challenge because of what it allowed me to do something I love (cycling) while raising money for a good cause. I also chose to do it in honor of my loved ones.
How have you been affected by cancer?
My first run in with cancer was with my grandmother in 2002. I was very close to her. She lived with us and took care of me as a child. She was very special to me. When she was first diagnosed with throat and tongue cancer, at the time we didn’t know what it meant. All we knew was that it was a terrible disease and that we were going to fight. My grandmother did fight and beat it the first time around. My grandma’s condition was improving, but 6 months after it looked like she had won her battle, the cancer came back. This time though my grandmother couldn’t overcome the cancer. My grandmother passed away in March of 2003.
In 2006, a mere 3 years after my first run in with cancer, cancer once again paid a visit to my family. This time though it was my mother who was affected. My mom was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. Now, having a better understanding of what this truly awful disease was capable of, we knew one thing, we knew that we had to not only fight, but stay positive. We discovered that attitude and the will to live was just as important to the medication. My mom had a lumpectomy followed by radiation and then chemo. I found myself once again on the front lines battling this disease taking my mom to her chemo appointments, oncology appointments and her radiation treatment.
In March of 2009, Cancer once again reared its ugly head with my loved ones. This time I was hit with what felt like a left hook and a right straight. My father was diagnosed with Stage IV Liver cancer. His prognosis was not good as it had spread to both nodes of the liver and he had 3 huge masses. In the same month, my mother felt a lump in her chest area. She decided to go in to get it checked out. We received the bad news that her breast cancer had come back except this time it had spread. It was in her lungs and in her bones. In a matter of 1 month, both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer. My father was terminal and my mother, who not knowing of the severity of her condition, was in for the fight of her life. My father ended up passing away 3 months later. My mother on the other hand battled for another year, but she eventually succumbed to this terrible disease.
These are just stories of the closest ones to me that I’ve lost to cancer. In addition to them, I’ve lost 2 cousin in-laws and an Uncle,
Cancer has changed my life. It took away 3 people that were near and dear to my heart; first my grandma, then my dad and then my mom. Cancer has caused me to see life in a different way. It taught me never take life for granted. It taught me to live life to the fullest. It taught to me that there is more to life than all these material goods. It also taught me that no matter how much suffering or pain I think I’m going through, it pales in comparison to the pain or suffering that cancer patients endure. Cancer has taught me that life is truly precious and that I am blessed to get up in the morning pain free because there are people out there suffering.
I was once asked why I still wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet because of everything that has gone on. I tell them of my story and I tell them that I don’t wear my bracelet for 1 man. I wear it is a daily reminder to live life to the fullest. I wear it in honor of my mom, my dad, my grandma and all the people who were lost to this disease. I tell them I also wear it for the all the people who are fighting. I wear it for them so that they know that they are not alone in what is literally the fight of their life.
Name one piece of advice you would give to someone affected by cancer.
The one piece of advice I can give is never lose HOPE and always keep your FAITH. I know it’s easy for me to say, because there will be times when someone going through treatment is going through a lot of pain in suffering, but HOPE and FAITH can provide you with strength that you never knew you had. I saw it with my grandma, I saw it with my Dad and I saw it with my mom. The word LIVESTRONG means to me hope and strength.