Announcing our room recipient for The Rainbow Connection!
We are so excited to be able to announce our next room makeover recipient! His name is Cody Dinkel, and his story follows below. We know you will find it as powerful as we did in selecting him for The Rainbow Connection Room. Cody’s family is no stranger to cancer. My Happy Place-Fort Collins did a room for his nephew, Carson, 2 years ago while he was undergoing treatments for eye cancer. Carson was 3 at the time, and now he is cancer free! During the room reveal we did for Carson, I had the privilege of meeting Cody and his wife Morgan, and recently they just celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary. Last weekend, we sat down with them and found out Cody’s dreams for his happy place. Join the fun as we bring you along in the journey providing this for him.
It all started in May of 2011. I remember blacking out and having the sinking feeling that something was seriously wrong. For months prior, I had been waking up and throwing up first thing in the morning. I also had killer headaches. My family and I initially thought it was an issue with my stomach but after passing out, we decided further workup was warranted.
The following month, I got an MRI of my brain and later, my Mom received the worst possible phone call a parent could get, “Your child has brain cancer.” I was diagnosed with ependymoma, a rare type of brain cancer that primarily affects children under the age of three or adults over forty. The summer I had just graduated high school and was supposed to be enjoying life at home before going out-of-state to college was instead chock full of draining treatments. I first had a major surgery to remove the tennis ball-sized tumor from my brain and then went on to endure difficult and lengthy chemotherapy and radiation. My hopes and dreams for college and a career were tabled as my future suddenly became uncertain.
After six months of difficult treatment, I felt completely exhausted and weak, but the doctors told me I had a fifty percent chance of surviving the next five years. So I made the decision then and there to live my life to the absolute fullest and strive to be as healthy as possible. I began hitting the gym and cleaning up my diet. I even competed in three bodybuilding competitions in the following two years. It was actually at the gym where I met my future wife. We trained together often and after only a few weeks, I knew she was the one. I proposed to my wife, Morgan, in August of 2015 at a family gathering.
We were enjoying being engaged when I started experiencing shooting pain in my back. I dismissed it as a pulled muscle, but again, when I started throwing up, I knew something was terribly wrong. So it was in November of that year that I was re-diagnosed with a mass in my spine at the emergency department. I endured another surgery and radiation for this tumor and finished my treatment the week before I got married.
The six years since then have been full of subsequent recurrent tumors, doctor appointments, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, time off of work and lots of discomfort. I have been re-diagnosed with new tumor growths seven total times. I have even been part of a first-of-its-kind clinical trial in Seattle attempting to target central nervous system tumors. Currently, I have twelve tumors in my spine and six tumors in my brain.
Life has been full of lots of pain and discomfort. I cannot walk or exercise like I used to. However, my life has also been full of joy and many people that love and support me. My faith in God and His plan for me has helped keep me going this far. I enjoy working on cars, spending time in my garage, traveling with my wife and smoking a good cigar in between receiving treatments. My motto is to live life enjoying every day to the fullest and embracing whatever God has willed for me.
Learn more about My Happy Place’s Rainbow Connection here.