Surviving with a Smile
WEB-EXCLUSIVE: A young cancer survivor works to spread the word of a positive attitude.
Join Adrian Curiel at his fundraising event,
including food and drinks, on April 21 from
5-10 p.m. at SeaLegs Wine Bar in
Huntington Beach. Pre-sale tickets: $100;
tickets at the door: $125. All proceeds will
go toward printing and distributing In a Flash.
Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude. This is just one of the few positive guiding mantras from Adrian Curiel's book In a Flash.
Curiel, of Huntington Beach, is a bright, funny, charming 20-year-old, a fashion-forward, true Californian. For all intents and purposes, he is a normal guy – a normal guy with quite a unique history. When he was 15 years old, Curiel was diagnosed with stage three synovial cell sarcoma, a very rare form of cancer that left his doctors feeling less than optimistic about Curiel’s future.
Despite the odds piled against him, Curiel refused to give up hope. Having an already positive and vibrant personality, Curiel sought out resources to keep his spirits high and help him through the very difficult process. To his frustration, he could not find a resource for young cancer patients in his age group written by or about their own journey. Of course he found endless sources of information by doctors and other scholars using big words explaining the medical aspects of cancer, but there was nothing written by kids for kids struggling with cancer.
Curiel decided to journal his experience while he was still in the hospital and write a book about his experience with cancer in order to help guide and inspire other people who have been affected by cancer or any illness. He wanted to write the book while he was still in the hospital to capture the “raw, real” emotions and experiences he was going through at the time.
Curiel got his first jumpstart toward his goal from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, who set him up with a publisher in November 2013. He printed his first physical copy of the book shortly after and the response he got from each person who read it motivated him to keep spreading the word.
“Anyone reading this who has been in this situation will read it and think, ‘Yep, that kid is spot on,’” says Curiel. He designed the book to be read as a “conversation with a friend” in order to help kids reading it understand that they are not alone and can create a future for themselves that doesn’t revolve around cancer.
The book has also been helpful for Curiel’s family. Having cancer was a daunting experience for Curiel, but the experience also hugely affected his family and friends who were by his side as he was going through treatment. The book, in Curiel’s opinion, has secondarily been a resource for family and friends of a person suffering from cancer, or any medical trauma, to better understand what that person is going through and what they can do to help keep that person positive and focused on getting better.
When speaking of his experience, Curiel recalled many times when the best medicine for him was having a friend to talk to.
“There’s a part in my book where I talk about being sick the whole day… and my brother was coming to visit me," Curiel says. "The moment I saw him walk through the door, I lit up and the nausea went away.”
Currently, Curiel is focused on raising funds to cover printing and distribution costs. All money raised beyond the goal will go to funding his hospital visits to kids and book tours. He is also hoping to plan a charity event to help get his book into the hands of kids who need it.
And he plans to write more books, telling of life after his battle with cancer.
“I want to show kids that you can have a life after cancer and you can be normal again,” he says. “I truly believe talking with people and staying positive is why I’m alive today, and I want to spread that message.”