When Robert Flores was diagnosed with colon cancer, he immediately looked for people that had gone through the same fight. Unfortunately, he found it frustratingly difficult to find anyone that understood what he was going through. So he wrote "F*ck Cancer!," a book describing every step of his journey, in hopes that nobody else would have to search as hard as he did.
We got the opportunity to interview him about his book and his experience with cancer.
BeSeenGetScreened: Please tell us about your book.
Robert Flores: Everyone's cancer is slightly different from the next, even if it's diagnosed in the same category. As I went through my treatments I looked for a mentor, a friend with a similar diagnosis.
I went on social media and found on Twitter three women who were tweeting about their respective cancers. What a great inspiration they were. So I decided to have a go at it. I started a blog.
I did this so maybe I could help someone like me, who was going through treatment. I didn't sugarcoat anything. My book is a very raw account of what I experienced.
BSGS: What kind of response have you gotten from your book?
Flores: The response to the book has been overwhelmingly positive. It's published by an independent publisher, Santino Rivera, Broken Sword Publishing. Santino saw my blog and felt it would make a great book.
The best quote is from a new Facebook friend who told me to post information about the book so she could share with her friends, "We don't ever hear stories like this." That is exactly why Santino found the need to publish my story.
BSGS: Tell us about your experience with colon cancer.
Flores: My experience with colon cancer was the most painful, torturous experience of my life. I started with six rounds of chemo every two weeks. Then I started 25 sessions of radiation. After all the radiation, they let me recover for a month. Then I had my surgery to remove the tumor. I have a permanent colostomy.
I had a few complications, but when I recovered from surgery I started on 12 more rounds of chemo every two weeks. Along with that I did an infusion of the drug Erbitux every week. It was quite a marathon.
BSGS: What was most helpful to you in your fight against cancer?
Flores: It wasn't just one or two things. The fact that I might be the most optimistic person, ever. I wake up happy. My glass is always three quarters full. My immediate family is very small but we are very close. I was surrounded by family and friends ready to help. Every day. Every night.
I also relied on my faith. I'm Catholic. I prayed constantly. And I had complete faith in all my doctors. They were my Dream Team.
BSGS: Why should people read your book?
Flores: I hope that by reading my book it will open up a dialogue with those that normally don't talk about this subject. In many cultures, cancer --especially colon cancer-- is not something we share at the dinner table.
I'm not an expert on cancer. But I found that by talking to someone that went through or is going through treatment it is so much more authentic.
BSGS: How has your life changed since?
Flores: I have made a concerted effort to make sure in some ways my life hasn't changed. I am back at work, I try to go to sporting events, and I exercise. There are ways in which my life has changed.
I want to give back. This book is one way. I'm donating the proceeds from the book to CHOC , the children's hospital, and to the Latino Health Access here in Santa Ana. I am willing to talk to anyone that is going through cancer treatment. A co-worker just had colon cancer surgery, and I'm mentoring him.
BSGS: If you could give one piece of advice to people trying to fight or prevent colon cancer, what would it be?
Flores: I've learned from other people's experience that healthy eating and exercise doesn't guarantee you that you won't ever get cancer. But it is good advice. You also need to get your regular check up with your doctor. If you have a family history of cancer, tell your doctor. Push for that colonoscopy. Don't avoid it.
I had no symptoms. My appetite was normal. My energy level was normal. Have a healthy and honest relationship with your doctor.