My YouTube Story
This story that I am about to share is a very personal story of my life after cancer and how it led me to YouTube.
I started doing YouTube a long long time ago in a galaxy far away… hold on, wrong story…
Rewind to the mid 2000’s, I was working at an online streaming company as the Creative Director and we were on the forefront at the time of LIVE streaming online. We even sponsored NAB in Las Vegas. I told my boss that I had ran across this awesome site where people were constantly posting new videos and mentioned that he should take took a look at it. His response to me after reviewing the site was, “This site will never make it, how can they monetize this and actually support it”. The joke was on him because about 6 months after that, our company went bankrupt and look where YouTube is now.
So now fast-forward to the beginning of 2010. We had just completed a move from Houston to Dallas, TX and I was starting a new job. Oh yeah, we also just sold a house and purchased a new house. One more important tidbit of information… I had just been diagnosed with with testicular cancer. About 6 months before all of this I had a vasectomy since we considered our family complete. This was a perfect storm of devastation in my head.
There were no signs of cancer at the time of my vasectomy (August 2009) nor at my follow up visits (October 2009). I ran across this simply by chance one evening while taking a shower in mid December. (Note to all you males out there: EXAMINE your junk!) I was washing the nether regions and felt something out of the ordinary; one of my family jewels was noticeably larger and harder than the other one. It was like I had a normal one and then a rock… scratch that, a BOULDER (saying boulder makes me feel more manly) for the other one. I took a moment to contemplate on how I should react and then decided to call my wife, Amy into the bathroom. I had her examine my bag of jewels… I mean boulders just to confirm I wasn’t conjuring up things in my head for no reason. She confirmed what I had noticed and urged me to get a doctors opinion.
The following day I setup a doctors appointment with a urologist and he had the same concerned look upon examination. I proceeded to have a secondary opinion followed by an ultrasound and everything was confirmed as we had been suspecting… I had testicular cancer. This was all happening in such a whirlwind and I really had no idea how to deal with my emotions. Things ran through my head like how could this be happening to me at 31 and I had a family to raise and we had just moved to a new city and job away from our family and friends whom we could have been able to lean on for support… It was very scary and emotional!
The doctor I chose to work with ran through all of the options with Amy and I and urged us to make a quick decision to remove the cancer and begin treatments since I was so young and we caught it at such an early stage. All of this was happening within days of Christmas in 2009. He was asking me to schedule my surgery for Christmas Eve and begin oncology treatments before the new year began. I decided to push any surgeries and treatments until 2010, so that our family could concentrate on the season and enjoy our Christmas together without worrying about medical issues.
On January 13th, 2010 I went under the knife to have the cancer removed from my body. During the following 2 to 3 weeks, I was fighting with deep depression really bad. My manhood had been taken away from me, a part of my body; one of my boulders, was missing from me and I was worried about my future with my family. I was wondering if my life would be cut short.
This moment in my life changed me forever.
I couldn’t sleep at night and then insomnia set in, I lost about 25 pounds within a month and my extended family was not there for me when I needed them most. Soon after the surgery, I began speaking with my oncologist and we chose to go the route of a double dose of chemo to hit me hard and hopefully with my age only need one round. The chemo treatment chosen for me made any food upset my stomach, so I had to be on 3 different drugs to help ease the queasiness. For a solid week, I had to go into the oncology office to receive an injection and do blood work to make sure I was progressing in the right direction.
Over the weeks following this cancer treatment, I sunk further and further into depression. I had thoughts about what Amy would do without me and if I was going to be around to see my boys grow up into men. Depression is real and is not a simple switch that one can simply turn off or on. If you know anyone that is suffering from depression please help them and from my perspective the best thing someone can do is to stay positive and be very understanding. Amy was my angel during this time.
I began watching a lot of YouTube at all hours of the day and night since my body was not allowing me to sleep. The insomnia, in a way was my entry point into the world of YouTube. I searched for family videos, animal videos and any other videos that would make me smile or laugh. I needed to find anything that would help me change my frame of mind and get me out of my depression.
I ran across two YouTubers that I now consider friends, Shay Butler (AKA ShayCarl and father of the Shaytards) and Charles Trippy (CTFxC). These two men helped me conquer my depression. I became a viewer that eagerly awaited their next upload and felt a kind of connection with both of them over the internet. They were such good role models for any person to follow. I was enamored with how Shay interacted with his family and did everything in his power to put his life in a positive situation. Charles had such a captivating personality and understood the power of the internet. Their positivity simply flowed from every video they uploaded. The key to both of these men in my eyes was the ability to turn every situation into a positive.
I took this to heart and realized my importance to my wife and my boys. I knew that my life was important in creating a family tree and building a family that strives for success. As I said before in this story, we were basically in a new environment with no support system in place. My extended family was three hours away and dealing with their own issues, Amy’s extended family has never been close and all of our friends were four hours away.
My job as the head of my household was basically to ‘MAN UP”, which I did!
I told Amy that once I was out of the woods so to speak, I was going to start a YouTube channel to show our children, our extended family and friends, and all of the world that “No matter the hurdles life puts in front of us, we as humans can always find happiness within ourselves”.
This was not an easy task and I started with small steps each day building up to the decision to create a video every day for one solid year. There was a channel for daily vloggers around that same time that asked creators to create a video everyday for one year; hence, the chosen name of ErikTV365. This other channel was known as the “YouTube Orbit” (theYTOrbit) which was ran by Jason Urgo from Social Blade.
So on July 1st, 2010, I uploaded my first vlog to our channel and we began to film everyday for an entire year (we are currently in year six of consecutive daily vlogs). For the first six months Amy (aka The hot Wife) did not appear on any vlogs and for the first few years we referred to our kids as the “Zilla’s” which is where Amy got her twitter handle (@MomOfTheZillas). Xander was called “Little Zilla” and Jakhob was “J-Zilla”. I always thought that this would just be an outlet to store our memories we created and to share our happy moments with our friends and family. As the months turned into years and the years turned into everyday habits, we grew into “Daily Vloggers”. My daily commitment to vlogging just turned into a way of life and it felt like just another activity that I did everyday as a human being. I watched as Shay and Charles became mega stars in the YouTube universe. I learned that a career could be made from Youtube and that the sky is the limit for any individual with the drive to be a positive influence on others. My goal of 365 days morphed into a goal of someday becoming a Full Time YouTuber and making a career out of YouTube.
There have been many more people besides Shay and Charles that have given me plenty of support and direction and even influenced our style of vlogs over the years and I am sure at some point I will write about them here on my blog.
As I type this story out, I realize that there are pieces of information that I am either forgetting or simply just leaving out but this story is always changing and forever growing as I continue to build our story of happiness and live my life in the eyes of every person that chooses to be a part of our family. Feel free to leave a comment behind or if you have any other questions about our story, simply ask in the comments section. If you have taken the time to read this entire story, please share this with anyone that you feel would gain something from reading it.
Thanks for your time and as I like to always tell myself… “As I sit here breathing air into my lungs, I need to be thankful and happy that I am here for my family! I am truly blessed” – Erik