Having starred on A&E’s Paranormal State, Ryan Buell is no stranger to navigating talk about death. But in 2012, the paranormal investigator was forced to face his own mortality when, at age 29, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

In the first part of his exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Buell candidly revealed the shock of his diagnosis, as well as coming to terms with the looming possibility of his death.

Now, in his own words, Buell recalls the depths of his struggle as he underwent treatment, and looks back on the people who’ve bolstered him along the way as he treads a slow, steady path to recovery.

A Turn for the Worse

They wanted to do preventative treatment: build up my organs, especially my kidneys. My understanding is that most people die of other complications due to the cancer, like kidney failure.

At times, I was experiencing almost like a traffic jam in my body and my kidneys would shut down or I’d be in insane, intense abdominal pain, like I was being stabbed to death. I was throwing up constantly, suffering fever, changing of the skin. It took some time to get things under control. I was grateful for this preventative measure as opposed to breaking out the hacksaw and just going straight in.