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Justin Sandler (Germ Cell Tumor Survivor)

Justin Sandler (Germ Cell Tumor Survivor)

About me

My name is Justin Sandler and I’m in Los Angeles, California. I’m born and raised in Chicago and I have been working in the performance and creative field for most of my life. I’ve been a musician since I was a little kid. Professionally, I played drums and I went to Indiana University and graduated with my degree in communications and theatre. My specialties were television, film directing, editing, and producing. My wife and I started running our production studio Three Cube Studios LLC in January 2011.

Symptoms and diagnosis

In 2017, I suddenly developed very heavy pains in my chest. I got very sick one weekend. I thought I had the flu. I thought I would be in bed for a few days. But my fever didn’t break for over three days. The pain in my chest kept getting worse. But I didn’t have the flu. So I finally went and saw my doctor. I got a CPT scan because of chest pain. They found a mass inside of my chest which was growing. I went and saw the top cardiographic surgeon at UCLA Medical. His name is Dr. Lee, and he got me going with every test under the sun for two weeks. I did Pet scans, Cat scans, X Rays, and a full surgical biopsy. On May 4, I was officially diagnosed with cancer. It was a germ cell tumour which was a very rare diagnosis. The tumour had grown as big as 13.9 CM. It was growing into my heart and going into my lung and possibly some other veins and nerves. 

Treatments underwent

Doctors couldn’t give the stage because it hadn’t spread. Doctors said that cancer itself wasn’t going to kill me but crush my heart before cancer ever spreads far enough. It was severely shocking news. I didn’t want to believe that I had cancer. I was physically fit and on top of my game, with daily practices of meditation and Buddhist chanting, a vegan diet, and living a very healthy life. I came to know about a germ cell tumour. It’s based on the cells that are one of the first cells to move when we’re just little embryos. So this was not cancer that was caused by my diet or exercise or lifestyle or anything in the environment. It was actually a cell that was moving while I was just an embryo, and it got stuck. And one day, something knocked it up and it started to multiply. My oncologist gave me the treatment plan, which was downright insane. They were going to install a port in my chest. They did three different types of chemotherapy 24 hours a day for a week at a time. So I would consume 15 bags of chemo every round, to complete one week in the hospital, two weeks at home for at least four rounds, and test periodically to see how the cells were reacting. So they said if it reacts to the chemo this would be followed by a full open chest surgery to remove the tumour from your chest.

I had another heart surgery due to fluid build-up in the heart sac. I almost died due to this. Luckily, it wasn’t cancerous. I had to stay in the hospital for 2 weeks. Eventually, I became cancer-free in January 2018.

Emotional wellbeing

The day that I found out, I freaked out. I didn’t expect anything like that. I had too many things going on and couldn’t stop dealing with an illness. But once I knew and got the diagnosis, I was much more relaxed. So emotionally, I didn’t drop into any fear. I’ve been practising spirituality, my Buddhist chanting meditation. I just knew that right then and there I would be a survivor and that I would be able to help others. Two days before I was moving to the hospital, I got together with the local Buddhist script. They were all chanting together for my health, for my victory. I chanted along and surrendered. When I did that, I was blessed with a powerful message to embrace, love, and free my cancer.

I did all of my practices. Meditating, chanting, journaling, reading inspirational books, listening to inspirational audio, listening to my neural beats and high frequencies, and taking my cannabis oil. My wife encouraged me to keep doing live videos on Facebook and YouTube to share. And I started getting feedback from people. I started to educate people on a different way of speaking. 

By the time we finished the fourth round, there was no sign of cancer left. But surgery was delayed due to my low platelet count. In 2017, I went to UCLA hospital for an eight-hour surgery. I was in the ICU for a week. I was finally released. 

My support system

II spent the next two months in a hospital bed in my house. I couldn’t do anything. My wife, who was my caregiver, was there from day one. She helped me. She stood by me and encouraged me. She was caring for me while I was in the hospital bed in the room. But after two months, I was allowed to do some physical activity again. And so I started to do walks.

Message to cancer patients and caregivers

My message is to embrace love free philosophy. That’s the message I want everyone to learn. Because no matter if you’re a cancer patient, a cancer caregiver, or just another human being walking on the streets who are dealing with a problem or obstacle in your life. Try viewing your obstacle as an opportunity. If we cannot embrace and accept cancer then how can we love and give gratitude to the situation. And if we can put this all together then we can eventually get past this and be free of this obstacle. My advice to cancer patients and caregivers is that gratitude always comes from a space of love. Be gentle with yourself, because there are going to be hard days. If you’re a caregiver, have compassion for yourself too. It’s very important to take care of yourself. A lot of people don’t really do that and realise that. 

Helping others

Caregiving Cancer.org is the website that we have currently set up to raise funds. It is specifically geared towards the caregivers of cancer patients. Caregivers are like the forgotten heroes often overlooked.

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