(14) Do Work!

With all of these questions flooding my mind, I tried to figure out the best place for me to go in order to answer them and work on myself. After a few weeks of consideration I decided it was best for me to move back to Northern California where my family was and start fresh. Becoming a new and improved me was not going to be easy and knew that the support of my family was going to be needed.  Once I was certain of the move home, I called my mother and said I was moving back in. At first she was a little shocked that I was coming home, but at the same time understood what I needed to do for myself emotionally.  But with this new change came new responsibility and acceptance of my faults. So with this in mind, the first thing on my list to do before heading back north was to seek out the women I had hurt and apologize to them personally. What a bumpy few weeks I was in for, not knowing what reactions I might get or the plain fact that I might not even be able to say anything at all.

Girl #1 (Sharon):

I felt as if this was going to be the hardest girl to apologize to, as I knew from her friends that if she ever see’s me again, “I would get a swift kick to the junk.”  Now this might not sound like a good opportunity to go and talk to her, but I had to do it in order to close this chapter in both my life and hers.  I tried calling her numerous times and left at least 10 voice messages asking her to hear me out and let me apologize for my behavior.  Finally after a week I got some notification from her, but it was not what I had in mind nor expected. There was a note on my door that she had left for me to read. This is what the note said:

Dear Nick,

I appreciate the fact that you want to see me and apologize for the actions you took towards me. For starters, how does it feel when you want to get a hold of someone so bad just to say sorry or anything for that matter, and you don’t get any response? Because that is how you left me! I was really hurt and never thought someone like you that has been through a big life changing event would be so dark and down right rude.

I will meet you, but only if you truly mean everything you say and are honest. If you are planning on telling me bits and pieces, then save your breath and my time.

I will be at the coffee shop in Barnes and Nobles at 3:30pm on Friday. See you there if you’re serious!



After Reading this letter, I started questioning myself. Do I really mean it? Am I being selfish, or am I doing it for both of us?  Once I answered these questions, I came to the conclusion that it was for both her and I. My pride and ego had to go, and raw emotion had to surface in order to fix what I had damaged.

Friday had come and the car ride to see her had to have been the most nervous, anxiety filled car ride I had ever taken. Once I arrived to Barnes and Nobles, I walked slowly towards the coffee shop, feeling every single heartbeat that had boomed and echoed throughout my chest.  There she was sitting nervously at a table by the window looking outside. Was she anxious or upset? This question was racing through my mind as I stopped dead in my tracks towards her. She turned her head in my direction, made eye contact and now it was time for me to make the move that started my road to redemption.

I arrived at the table, greeted her with a very nervous hello and smile, not knowing what really should have been said in this kind of situation.  I sat down across from her and as I did, I felt her eyes locked on me the whole time.  The time came to break the ice and get the conversation started, so I began with a “thanks for meeting me” and “hope we can have a meaningful and heart felt talk”.  After that, most of the conversation consisted of me listening to her and responding to any questions she had for me.  At the end of our conversation I apologized for all the mean things I had said and done. I knew that words did not mean much without action behind them, but at the time it was all that I could offer including my friendship if she chose to accept it.  The time had come to say goodbye and she looked at me and said, “I appreciate and accept your apology. You are a good man, but have issues you need to accept and work on. I will be your friend and be there for you in a time of need. Hopefully you will find the answers you seek and become a better man.”

This meant so much to me at this point in my life and was hoping that the next few girls that I had to contact would be this understanding.  If only I could have seen the future and prepared myself for the next encounter, because boy was I in for a ego and heart crushing ride!

(13) The Heartbreaker

This feeling inside of total chaos and anger was barking to get out and when my ex finally pushed my last button, it was released. No longer did I want to be this nice guy that women would love to find and keep, yet I decided it was best to become this womanizing manipulative guy that was out for revenge.  The path that I was about to travel down was very dark and twisted. So many close friends and family could not believe who I was becoming, but some strangely understood.

I was so tired of being stepped on and thrown out like I was a piece of trash. For some reason I wanted women to feel the hurt I had felt and the loss of something they thought was special. The first girl that stepped into my ring of fire was Sharon. She was very nice, sweet and going to school, but little did she know that if she came any closer to me she was in for an emotional roller coaster. Of course as you know it she played right into my little game of catch and release. I had become this guy that lied and manipulated my way into her heart and gave her false hope. After only a few weeks, I had her buying me games, movies, food, and even taking me on little vacation trips. I felt so powerful knowing that I could end it whenever I wanted to, because I had not one bit of care in the world about her feelings. After a month had gone by, I started looking for my way out of this little fake relationship I had built. The opportunity finally came when she had said something that sounded like my ex. I completely took what she said way out of context and cut off all communication to her that day.  For a week she tried calling me numerous times and showing up to my house, but I wouldn’t answer. Something inside of me was happy but not yet satisfied.

The calls and random show up at my door started to fade away, but still felt I did not have closure on the situation. So as you would know, when I went out with my friends to a club one night I saw her there. Of course I would have felt awkward running into her, because I did not have a closing argument to my sudden disappearance. Later that night as fate would have it, I walked by her kissing another guy. “Perfect! Perfect!” screamed very loudly in my head. So I casually walked up to the two of them, looked at the guy and said, “ enjoy bro, because she is an easy catch.”  The look on her face was the closure I was looking for, and I felt a feeling that could not be described.

This feeling was like a drug and I wanted more! So like all addictions I began looking for my next fix. For the next few months I went through many fake mini relationships, cheated and just plain used woman. The things I would say to women, I was surprised it didn’t get me into more trouble than I had gotten in to.

But finally like god playing his hand in my life, I met this girl Emily and she was perfect in everyway. She was very nice, beautiful and caring. She was the game changer and eye opener! For the first time I really felt like this woman really wants to get to know me and understand the pain I went through, both with cancer and relationships.  I told her everything and even the very evil ways I had with girls before her.  After laying it all out there on the table for her viewing, she gave her views and opinions on why I became this “so called” monster I created. I gobbled up every word she said and analyzed it. I found myself crying and hating the person I had turned into all because of one person.  She told me one thing that would stick with me for the rest of my recovery process, which was, “you have not yet accepted the fact you lost her”. This was totally true and I needed to go away emotionally and work on myself before coming back into the dating world.  Emily and I ended up becoming very good friends and I looked at her as a friend to lean on when my emotions where in a rough battle.

Now it was time for me to throw out my pride and really work on me. Why did I become this womanizing asshole that I never thought in a million years I would be? Is this really what a cancer survivor should use his second chance in life for? If I could go back in time I would have kicked my own ass for the horrible things I said and did. Like everything in my life, it was time to step back and evaluate what I did and find reasoning.

(12) The Unexpected

The night had come for me to meet my ex for drinks at a local bar. I remember all the thoughts and ideas running through my head as I drove to meet her. What was the first thing I wanted to say to her? Should I be nice or cold hearted? Do I let her talk and just listen? All of these questions flew out the door once I saw her waiting outside. When I walked up to her, she leaned in for a hug and I gave her a half ass hug back, not expecting to do that of course.  We both walked in silent and found a table to sit down at.  What an awkward feeling this was, sitting starring at each other in silence seeing who was going to talk first.

As I was getting ready to open my mouth and rip into her, she quickly started talking. First thing that came out of her mouth was, “Nick, I’m so sorry I said the nasty comments to you when you needed me the most!” After she had said this I was no longer mad, but now wanted to hear what she had to say and try to accept her apology. But of course I gave her too much credit in the beginning like usual, because very shortly after her first comment, she followed up with excuses for her actions and pointed out the things I did wrong. Now at this point I was no longer going to accept her apology and started to brainstorm how I could get even with her after all of the bad things she had done to me over our five-year relationship. I recall asking her one question later on into the night, and the answer I received completely triggered a person inside of me I never knew I had nor wanted to be.

The question I had asked her was this; “You said you cheated on me. So, how many times and with how many people? I wont get mad, because we are not together, but want to know for closure.” Her answer came after a few minutes of thinking and finally she said this; “Well if you want me to be honest, I would say with about eight different guys and who knows how many times with each one.”

Sitting across from her, I looked at her as if nothing was wrong and just smiled. Underneath my smiles was so much hatred and anger that I have never felt before. I never thought she could crush me anymore, but obviously that was not the case. Now in my head I started to brainstorm what I could do that night to make her feel all the hurt she has caused in my life. I had the perfect plan and as the night went on it unfolded perfectly!

As the night grew late we both had a few drinks and I asked her if she wanted to go dancing at a club.  She accepted and we headed out for more drinks, followed by a lot of close dancing. Throughout the night I showed her what she was missing, and how much fun I could be if we were still together. Felt like she was playing right into my trap that I had set.  When the club was closing I looked to her and asked her what she wanted to do, and she replied with, “let’s go back to your place.” So as you would have already guessed, that’s exactly where we went. Kissing, touching and so-called “sparks” where flying, but I don’t think she really had any idea of what was going on inside my head. The night drew to an end and we laid there in my bed looking at each other.  She ended up falling asleep, and I rolled over with a big smile on my face knowing that the next morning she was in for a rude awakening.


I awoke the next morning to her next to me with a smile on her face, and a look that shouted what an amazing night. She said good morning, followed by “I want to talk to you about something.” Once I heard that, I sat up immediately, and told her, “I was all ears. “ She started with, “What happened last night was not planned, but as it all happened I found myself falling for you all over again! Do you think maybe we can try again?” I quickly started laughing and tried to gather my thoughts. What I was about to say to her I’m sure was something no woman would ever want to hear from a guy she loved. So as I pulled myself together, I replied with what I thought at the time was the best stab at her heart. “Oh, I’m sorry that you thought it was a magical reconnecting night for us. But how does it feel to love or want somebody that doesn’t want to give you the same respect back!”

After I had blurted out that statement she quickly went from smiles to confusion. She got up yelled some obscenities at me, slapped me across the face and stormed out of my house. Once the front door slammed shut, I began to ask myself a couple of questions. Did she really deserve that? Was I an asshole for the game I just played? What and who did I become last night? Did she open the door to someone inside me that has been dying to get out?


All these questions flooded my head but one stuck out as if it needed to be recognized! Obviously there was something brewing inside of me that needed to be unleashed, and she did just that. The next few months, I became this guy that women emotionally would fear and never want to experience.

(11) Missed the Tsunami Warning!

Two nights after the show wipeout had aired, I remember the phone ringing in a different room and I rushed to go answer it. When I got to my phone I looked at the caller ID and it said restricted. Now normally I don’t pick up restricted phone calls, but with the TV show just airing, I thought maybe it was family.  Boy could I have been further from that when I answered the call.  I answered and a woman’s voice comes across. “Nick! Oh my god I just saw you on TV. Bet your ego is even bigger now!” This voice was none other than my ex girlfriends voice. Not only did I not want to talk to her, but yet felt myself going straight into a flashback of what had happened the week before chemotherapy.


March 2007

Feeling empty inside and alone in a cold house by myself, I needed to reach out to someone who my heart belonged to. My so-called girlfriend at the time was know where to be found and would not answer any of my phone calls or text messages. I needed her to be there for me and give me strength to fight through love and compassion.  When I finally got a hold of her later that night, I found out that she was right down the street from me at her girlfriends house.  I asked her why she wouldn’t call me back to at least acknowledge my existence and show me some empathy at least for what I was about to go through.  She straight up told me this: “The world isn’t always about you Nick! I have friends and they need me more than you right now.” I was absolutely crushed when I heard this! I hung up the phone and began to break down yelling out curse words at anyone that crossed my path. At that time I wanted nothing else but to die and be done with it.

My mother came home to find me curled up in a ball crying and shaking. She starting freaking out thinking I was sick and needed to go to the hospital.  I told her to calm down, then started to explain what events had unfolded during the day with my girlfriend.  She was totally shocked with the way my girlfriend was treating me and making me feel in this desperate time of need. My mother had become my counselor for the next few hours, and of course as I settle down my girlfriend decides to make an appearance.

My doorbell rang and my step dad answered the door. Immediately I heard arguing and the voice of my girlfriend pierced my ears. My step dad told her in a nice way to take a hike, but of course being me I chased after her.  Running to the front door I called her name begging her to stop and talk to me. She did just that, but with a very mean look.  I asked her why she was being so rude and what I did wrong to deserve this treatment.  She said, “I don’t want this drama in my life, and it would be better if I just cut you out of it.” Again I started to cry, but she showed no mercy on my heart. She continued with,” My friends are waiting for me and if you don’t mind I have better things to do!”  After I heard that I completely snapped and began to yell at her, saying whatever came into my mind. Once I was done venting she decided to take a very low blow and say something that would affect me for the rest of my life. “I hope the cancer fucking kills you! So I don’t have to deal with your shit anymore.” Shocked that I just heard those words come out of her mouth, I stood their jaw dropped with every ounce of breath taken from my body. At this time, my neighbor came to my defense that had been listening in on the conversation from her front patio. She came rushing over telling me to go inside the house and then quickly screaming at my now ex girlfriend to leave and never show her face again. As I walked inside I heard voices arguing away outside, but I started to tune out and slowly closed my bedroom door. The battle for my life just got that much harder at this point, and felt like I needed a miracle. I crawled into my bed, starred at the ceiling and cried myself to sleep.

Snap back to reality..

Obviously I was shocked to hear from her, but how ironic for her to call after I was aired on TV. But even after the years had passed, she sounded and acted the same as the last time I talk to her. But seeing that I was in a totally new mind frame and up for giving second chances, I agreed to meet her for drinks later on in the week. Was this a good move? What was about to happen at our little meeting was not expected nor did I ever think would ever happen.

(10) Check please!

In my room I found myself looking into the mirror asking, where do I start? Referring to the bucket list I had created, I looked and asked what can realistically be completed first?  As a sign from above, my buddy Cliff grabbed the bucket list out of my hand and looked it over.  He looked at me after only a few moments and said, “15 million huh? Just audition for a reality show and that will help I am sure of it.” So with his recommendation, I began to look up online how I could do that.  I found this site realitywanted.com and saw all of these TV shows casting for contestants. The one that popped out at me was this heading that said, “50k to the winner of the biggest obstacle course in America.  Known now as ABC’s wipeout. I immediately applied for the show and thought to myself, wow I can work towards my goal of 15 million smiles and also show to the world and myself what I can achieve even after Cancer.

After a week or so I did not hear from anyone so I gave up hope on a reality show. Of course the next day comes and I get this phone call from a casting director asking for me to come in and audition for the show! Without any hesitation I accepted and was one step closer.  The audition went well, and everyone in the office fell in love with my story. As I was walking out of the building, a lady stopped me, gave me a hug and said thank you so much for coming into this office and my life. For me that was a huge compliment and felt that she was my first smile.

A few days go by and still no call to tell me I was on the show, but I kept my fingers crossed. About a week after my audition I received a phone call from the shows casting producer telling me I was selected to be a part of the very first aired Wipeout show. My eyes began to tear up and joy filled my body. I couldn’t believe it, I was going to be on TV and show the world what cancer survivors are made of.

The day of filming was upon us, and I don’t think I really slept all that much the night before. I was so anxious and nervous to get the show on the road. I selected an outfit with the help of friends to wear on the show, in hopes that it would help me reach my goal of 15 million smiles.  One of the production assistants came up to me as I arrived and showed me to the changing area. As I got ready, I remember telling myself, “I hope your ready to laugh America!” I stepped outside of the changing room and almost everyone’s head turned in my direction with either a smile or jaw-dropping look. I was wearing all yellow, with yellow underwear over my shorts and knee high tube socks. This I felt was going to shoot me to my goal on my checklist.

The show was no easy task, but as the day went on I found myself as a contender and contestant to beat. I had one goal in mind and that was to win the whole thing! I told myself that if I had won, half of my winnings was going to cancer research.  I came close to winning but ended up taking third.  Even though I did not win I was victorious in many other ways.  I made new friends, was on TV and got to prove how hard I can push myself with the right motivation and determination in life.

The show went on and aired in March of 2008, which my episode was the very first episode to air. I had a viewing party at my house and with that came many laughs and congratulations.  The best part of that night wasn’t the fact that all my friends and family were around to watch this, but that I had received a phone call from the wipeout crew informing me something.  This is what he said; “Hey nick, I just wanted to be the first to congratulate you! I just saw the ratings from the show, and we had over 16 million viewers. So you know what that means.”  I kept saying no way and shut up over and over again, but he reassured me that it was a fact and he almost guaranteed that I made 15 million people smile. I informed my family and friends with the news and everyone was so happy for me.

So all in all I was able to do something that a lot of people out there wish they could do. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to be a contestant on the show and hopefully be an inspiration to all cancer survivors out there watching that night. My first item on my bucket list was checked off and ready to hand me its next task.  But then of course as fate would have it, someone surfaced and had to come in crashing me down like a tsunami.

(9) Forgotten List

Taking in a deep breathe outside in the passenger pick-up area, while I waited for my friend to pick me up, I thought to myself what’s next? A question that I found was always constant in my new beginning of life. As my friend rolled up, I saw his jaw open and eyes wide.  The look on his face was priceless when he saw my new outfit and the plain fact my hair was completely shaved off.  I got into the passenger side of the car and instantly he blurted out, “What the fuck did you do?” I began to laugh uncontrollably with tears in my eyes. Not tears of sadness, but of joy, because that was the first sign I took that I was a new person.


The whole car ride home was 21 questions, and what my next move was going to be. I kept replying with, “I’ll let you know on a daily basis because I wont know what’s next until I wake up the next day.”  The car ride home was exhausting and I was happy to be in my room ready to brainstorm my next attack in Los Angeles. As I began to unpack I noticed an envelope in the front pocket of my suitcase.  Inside were a couple of folded pieces of lined paper.  One saying: “please read first, mom”, and the other one blank.  I began to open the one my mother had written on, and this is what it said:


My dearest son,


            In this envelope you will find a list that you created as you where going through chemotherapy. Insisting that no matter what happens, you or myself where going to check everything off on this list.  It brought tears to my eyes when you showed me this list with everything you wanted to accomplish and do before you died. You are my only son and the meaning in my life; nothing will ever take that from me. So now I am giving back to you this list of things to do, hoping that this will help guide you onto the right path you are in search for. The world is yours to take hold of and nothing is impossible to achieve.


Love always,



Reading this letter brought me to my knees and I began to cry, knowing that I almost crushed my mother’s dreams of seeing her son succeed after surviving. After I pulled myself together I opened up the other piece of paper and saw my chicken scratch for writing. At the top it said “Bucket List” and please complete with laughter. The paper looked like this:



                            Please complete with joy and laughter!

  1. 1.     Get married to the girl of my dreams.
  2. 2.     Go on a European adventure.
  3. 3.     Make 15 million people smile.
  4. 4.     Go Skydiving
  5. 5.     Find a remote waterfall in Hawaii and stand under it
  6. 6.     Visit every state
  7. 7.     Buy a motorcycle and ride into the sunset.
  8. 8.     Help change a life
  9. 9.     Fly in a private jet
  10. 10.  Get a private pilot license
  11. 11.  Take up cycling
  12. 12.  Meet Lance Armstrong and go on a ride with him.
  13. 13.  Be in a movie
  14. 14.  Meet Jim Carey.


There was no ending to this list, but yet the kick-start of a new life adventure. This was a great starting point for me, and I knew that if I try hard enough I could check off everything on this list. The only question now was, where do I begin?

(8) Intervention!

Laughter filled the car as my roommate drove me to the Los Angeles airport, not knowing or maybe just hiding my shame with humility.  As I entered the airport and watched my friend drive off I felt alone and in a dark place.  How bad could things go at home? Even if they are hard on me, what do I care because I will be on the next flight back!  At the same time these thoughts were racing through my head, I was also having a war rage inside.  Knowing that I messed up and did not want to cope with what I had become and projected for others to see, I knew deep down that I had become a person I never saw coming.  The flight felt like all day even though it only took about an hour. I think during the flight there where so many ideas, excuses and alternatives speeding through my mind. By the end of the flight I knew exactly what I was going to say and how I was going to react to anything thrown my way.


The phone rang and my mother was already on my case. I answered and she quickly said where she was waiting and she will see me soon. At this point my heart dropped and I quickly began to panic. The tone in her voice was enough to pierce a hole right through me and make everything I thought about on the flight vanish. Turning the corner into the baggage claim area I see my mother and the look on her face said a million words. We exchanged a quick hug and silently walked to the car and headed home. The car ride home was very silent and consisted of looking out the passenger side window with my headphones in, acting like nothing was a matter.


Every thought that raced through my head I wanted to blurt out, but in the hour car ride home I never mustered up the courage to say them. I felt embarrassed and that I had let my family down with my choices and actions made. As we turned the corner into the neighborhood where the house was, I noticed a bunch of cars parked outside of the house.  I started to recognize the cars and was starting to grow very upset.  Once we pulled into the driveway, I looked over at my mother and said, “Wow mom, why don’t you just invite the whole fucking neighborhood over!”.  After I said that, I stormed into the house where I was quickly greeted by my father, grandparents, stepfather, best friend, long time neighbors and an old girlfriend. Words didn’t even come out of my mouth as I stood in the hallway looking at everyone. I wanted to turn around and run like the wind, right back to LA where I wouldn’t have to deal with this. But at this point I was so ego driven and had pride in my corner that I lifted my chin and found the closest open seat.


The things said to me and the tears I saw shed, completely crushed my pride and put me into a dark and depressed mode. After only 20 or so minutes I got up and yelled, “fuck this, I don’t need any of you!” Then continued to grab a few things and walk out of the house. I had no destination in mind, but the plain idea of get me the hell away from this place! As I placed one foot in front of the other for some time now I noticed I had walked around 3 miles or so, and cried for about 2.7 of those miles. Feeling that I had let not only myself down, but also everyone around me that loved me and had so much faith that I would live a meaningful second chance at life.  Who was this person I had turned into?  Why was I so mean? Where was all this anger coming from? These are a few questions I asked myself as I walked back towards the house. I felt that I had become a monster, and that the world and everyone in it needed to see the pain and suffering I endeared. All the fun, laughter, and image change that I had done was just covering the true pain and loneliness feeling I had deep inside. Back at the house everyone was still there waiting for me to come back, and as I walked through the door everyone stopped and stared as if I was a stranger. Apologies filled the room as I began going around to each person in the house and explained my behavior. After talking with everyone I had come to the conclusion that I needed to change my life yet again and get back onto a path that will be a rewarding and positive outcome.


Sunday morning came by very quickly and my decision to change was final. So I went into my bathroom, pulled out some clippers and walked into my mother’s room.  I looked at her and said, “Time for a reboot in my life”. As I handed her the clippers to shave my head she began to cry, not because she got to shave my head, but the plain fact that I listened to everyone around me and took immediate action to get back on the right path.  Now that my Mohawk was gone, next to go were my clothes. I needed a new look that was more put together and would better project my true identity.


Though I cut my hair, took the black nail polish off my fingernails, and changed my wardrobe, there was still one thing left to change. That one thing was going to be the most difficult to do, but in the end worth every ounce of energy. That one thing is myself, and the person I wanted to create inside.  The road ahead is a long and tough hill climb and all my friends in LA are going to be surprised by my sudden change.


As I left Sonoma County, thoughts, ideas and questions where rushing through my head. What are my friends going to think of the new me? Are they going to take me serious? What do I do next? All these questions would be answered shortly, as I arrived in Los Angeles. Walking off the plane and into the airport, I felt reborn, ready to start fresh with a new outlook on life and take charge.

Road to Happiness