I just turned 31 last September and have Stage 1, B2 cervical cancer. Not quite the birthday gift I’d expect to get.
I’ve had more pelvic exams in a month than I would in 2 years and my first ever, already 2, rectal exams. That usually isn’t a concern for the average adult until her forties. The tumor, as just about every doctor and ultrasound tech I had met with delivered to strongly express, is so large that it’s blocking my entire cervix. The pap smear I had done less than a year before apparently hadn’t caught it through screening; a year later, a mass the size of a fist had been growing inside a part of my reproductive system. It’s a rare case that any of the doctors worked with next to not at all but the need to dig into extensive research. The first oncologist I met with at Riverside County Regional Medical Center said there is no probable cause and literally called it “bad luck”. She referred me to seek care under the popular City of Hope.
I’m pleased to have a great team of doctors and all their sweet nurses who are well on it with my care at the delightful City of Hope. Medical oncologist Dr. Chen and his resident Dr. Cahan, gynecologist Dr. Han, and chemotherapist Dr. Cristea were all onboard to be aggressive with my treatment– Chemotherapy with radiation. After an ovarian transposition in hopes of salvaging any future of raising a family I received over a month of daily external radiation, was admitted over Thanksgiving weekend from being too sick, had 4 high dose rates of internal radiotherapy, and endured 3 months of sporadic cycles of chemo with intermittent infusions of hydration. The symptoms brought me hell but I knew surviving it through was inevitable. City of Hope with all the appointments was my second home for the past few months.
I’m a working nursing student as a CNA. I live actively as an avid runner and always find pleasure in outdoor adventures. I’m still young with so many plans when just 4 months ago I was left with no choice but to hold off on “living”. I lost getting to the Start line of 4 races I signed up for and had looked forward to, dropped classes in the middle of the school term, struggled with support, had little to no interaction with life, and now have a lower chance of being able to have the future of raising a family. Countless basins and boxes of Kleenex have been the closest things to me, literally and figuratively. I was in a good place and it had been stripped from me within seconds of the stupid diagnosis.
Being contacted by a representative of Stupid Cancer to join their group of runners for a relay, however under unfortunate circumstances, has been the most exciting news I can share up to date. I was thrilled to have heard about an entire group of cancer survivors participating in the upcoming Ragnar Relay SoCal. As my best friend Malorie says, I get to share one of my passions with other survivors and it is such a beautiful thing. What started out as my “bad luck” evolved into something good. I have a huge support system so amazing beyond my belief of ever having so much at this point in my life I would’ve never imagined. Reflecting on the many extraordinary events I have experienced over the past few years, aside from family, I’ve come to also revere good friends with like spirits, especially my fitness team To Manifest New Triumphs (TMNT Tribe). I’m grateful for the loyalty of loved ones as they are the true sponsors of a single person’s journey. At this point in my life, still young, I’ve always known that I have a pretty solid faith with God. Another great thing I love about everyone at City of Hope; they understand and implore the need for faith. Through Him, I no longer really look at it too much as something I could hate, but instead something I could embrace. It’s a completely different challenge that He’s “blessed” me with.
Team Stupid Cancer
This April 2016, twelve young adult cancer survivors will run the SoCal Ragnar Relay to Get Busy Living in the face of cancer. They will run a course of nearly 200-miles that ends in San Diego. Not only will they raise awareness for young adult cancer through their efforts, with your help they will raise transformative funds for Stupid Cancer, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that comprehensively addresses young adult cancer through advocacy, research, support, outreach, awareness, mobile health and social media. Our innovative, award-winning and evidence-based programs and services serve as a global bullhorn to propel the young adult cancer movement forward.
I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me with so much. - Mother Teresa