HOUSTON — The last six years have been full of once-in-a-lifetime memories for Israel Lemus. He and his wife Samantha are looking forward to the future.
“I don’t feel like I have cancer. The scans may show different and the doctors may say different, but in my mind, I’m in remission,” Israel told us.
In 2016, a massive seizure led to the diagnosis of a tumor the size of a golf ball in his brain. He has glioblastoma grade 4, which is the most advanced and aggressive form of the cancer.
“The typical prognosis is 14-24 months. They told me two months. I was 29 years old,” Israel said.
His family got that heartbreaking news six years ago. Since then, he’s undergone three surgeries and every cancer treatment available.
“It is a miracle,” said Dr. Jay-Jiguang Zhu, UTHealth Houston/Memorial Hermann. “We can see the disease on his MRI, that’s why we don’t use the word remission.”
Dr. Zhu says the fact that Israel has lived years longer than anyone could have guessed is a mystery. He believes a positive attitude, strong support system and a team of doctors who work together have helped.
"He's my miracle. I tell him all the time," Samantha told us.
Israel says getting a cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of your life. Since his diagnosis, he has gotten engaged, married, bought his first house and changed careers.
He sees every memory made with loved ones as a gift.
“To me, its 100% God. His mystery is my God,” he said. “Honestly I’m thankful to God for every day. The first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before going to sleep is thank God for that day.”