Back in January, I posted about the 10 year anniversary of my last chemo. Today, I am celebrating again! As of today, I’m a 10 year cancer survivor!!! 10 years ago today, I got the call that the cancer was gone! I always like to celebrate this day because it was definitely a life changing phone call. I still remember going to PCA that day and telling everyone that “ALL THE CANCER IS GONE!”
So I thought I would post my story for any of those who weren’t around me during that part of my life. I get asked a lot of questions about my cancer so hopefully this will help!
**By the way, I do not mind whatsoever to talk about it or answer any questions! There is so much more story than what I can fit in a single blog post.
In spring of 2002, when I was 14…
I noticed a lump near the elbow of my right arm. I thought it was just a large knot in my muscle. My doctor must not have thought much of it either. I don’t remember what she thought it was. But basically, we were sent away with no testing or answers. As the weeks went by, the lump was growing and becoming more painful.
I attended a volleyball camp during this time but ended up sitting on the sidelines most of the time because it was too painful to play. A few weeks later (after a vacation), we went to see an orthopedic surgeon. He assumed it was probably a benign fatty tumor, but he ordered an MRI, just in case. The day after the MRI, we got a call telling us to go to the hospital immediately to be admitted so more tests could be run. I remember being so scared. But I also remember feeling silly about being scared…like I was making a big deal out of nothing.
Now I could give you a very detailed timeline of how everything happened. But I’ll just stick to a general timeline. So, in July 2002, I was admitted to Cardinal Glennon, had a few different tests done–including a biopsy and port insertion. Before my surgery, a doctor came in and explained the situation.
There was a possibility I could have cancer.
If I did, they would be inserting something called a “port.” They showed me that it would be in my chest, under the skin, where they would insert needles, instead of having to continuously poke a vein.
I have memories of waking up from surgery in my hospital room. Waking up and being either alone or unaware of anyone in the room, and feeling pain in my chest. I was slipping in and out of sleep for the rest of the night. No one had even told me at that point, but since I could feel the port, I knew I had cancer. Just remembering that moment as I type it is very painful.
I had many, many people come to the hospital to see me that night. They lined the halls. I didn’t even get to see most of them but their love and support still means a lot to me. When I fully woke up, I was informed that I did, indeed, have cancer. Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. A tumor wrapped up in the muscle. So intertwined with my muscle that they even considered amputation as an option. Thankfully that option was quickly tossed out.
A few days later I had to report back for the first of many chemo treatments. The chemotherapy I had was very intense. I would be extremely sick for days after I had a treatment. Then about 10 days later, my blood counts would drop and I would have to be admitted for platelet or blood transfusions. I begged and begged to stay home from the hospital because I didn’t want to fight anymore. I was weak and I was ready to give up and die.
But God had different plans.
Better plans. His plans are always better. I could type out tons of verses declaring God’s sovereignty. He knew that I would be diagnosed with cancer, knew that I would suffer, and knew that I would be healed. He not only knew it, He ordained it! And I am thankful not only to be healed of the cancer, but to have been diagnosed with it in the first place. He used my suffering for His glory. He was, and continues to use situations in my life to mold me to become more like Him. So I am humbled that the Lord would use a sinner like me to give glory to His name.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.–Proverbs 16:9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.–Isaiah 55:8-9
Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?–Lamentations 3:37-38
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.–Psalm 115:3
I could list many more! Try looking up verses about God’s sovereignty. It is very encouraging!
Anyway, back to the story–
a week after chemo started, my hair started falling out so we got some wigs. Even on the days I felt “well,” I still suffered with fatigue and bone pain. I could barely walk anywhere without feeling the need to sit down and rest. It was tough–all of it. Chemo treatments every 3 weeks for a year and a half. Platelet/blood transfusions following almost every week after chemo. Radiation daily for 56 treatments at some point in there. Biopsies. My chance of surviving was very slim. I was later told 8%. But remember what I said about God’s sovereignty? He wasn’t done with me. The Lord saw fit for me to go into remission in 2004. Praise the Lord!
I have so many bad stories and memories about those days. But I also have a lot of good, happy memories that stick with me more than the bad ones.
I’m very thankful for the people who take time out of their lives to brighten the day of the children at the hospital. I got to meet quite a few well known sports players like Kurt Warner, Grant Wistrom, Andy Benes, the strong men ;), etc. Some of the other orginizations like Baskets of Hope, Rainbows for Kids, and Make-A-Wish Foundation are wonderful orginizations that bring encouragement and good memories for sick children.
I was able to travel to Hawaii with Make-A-Wish, go on a ski trip with Grant Wistrom (former Rams player), and get tickets for concerts and sporting events.
The Lord blessed me with a lot of good memories of a very bad time in life.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for me, who gave me a gift, wrote me a card, visited me, drove me to the hospital, stayed overnight with me, forced me to go the hospital, or helped in any way. I know it’s been 10 years but I’m feeling overwhelmed with gratefulness at the moment.
So now I’ll leave you with a few pictures..from back in the day when pictures were printed, scanned, and left with a horrible quality.