20– Healthy, but a little tired.
was a 21 year old college student playing on the varsity
basketball team. Life was good, but I was experiencing
extreme tiredness and continued to see my doctor for
an explanation. I was given a clear bill of health;
blood test showed a little iron deficiency, but that
21– Getting a little concerned
one year later, I was having periods of faintness and
weight loss. No real symptoms here - right. I was given
a medication for a stomach ulcer without any testing
to confirm this. We decided to switch family doctors
after the next faintness spell and a 10 lb weight loss
new family doctor put me through the ringer - thankfully.
The first test was an abdominal ultrasound, and there
was this 11cm in diameter tumour growing inside my
liver (right lobe). Within the day of receiving the
news that there was something inside my liver, I had
a biopsy completed. It took a full week to get the
results as two different labs needed to assess the
biopsy to ensure the diagnosis. I was diagnosed with
a very rare form of cancer - fibro lamellar hepatocellular
carcinoma. My new specialist sent me to a surgeon in
Toronto on a Monday, and that Thursday morning, I was
in surgery for 10 hours. The surgery was successful;
the entire right lobe of my liver was resected (just
over 75%). After the recovery period, I went through
a round of chemotherapy as a precaution. There are
no known measures to cease my cancer other than removal.
During all courses of treatment, I still lived my life.
No wigs no make up - this was me! Like it or leave
it. I was comfortable.
25 years old I was attending my last 6 month check
up before I would graduate to a year long check up
interval when it hit me again! This time there was
tumours intertwined through my spine (T11 - L1) and
also just below my liver in lymph nodes (approximately
four tumours). Being in school for dental hygiene,
I asked if we could postpone my surgery a couple of
months. I wanted to complete the semester. My
surgeon agreed that this was a slow growing tumour
and that would be OK. It was September 6th, 2001, and
I underwent another 10 hour operation. During
the operation, there were specialists in almost every
department present since the tumours were in different
areas of my body. This time, there was no chemo to
follow. I have had my lifetime dosage! Radiation
was an option, but there was nothing left to radiate. After
eight weeks of recovery, I returned back to school,
so that I would not have to extend my study period.
I graduated with honours.
my next two year check-up, low and behold, the cancer
had returned to lymph nodes in my abdomen. I had planned
to be married in two months time. Once again,
since these tumours are slow growing we waited until
the New Year to have surgery. My surgeon removed four
clusters of the lymph nodes. After the surgery,
the doctors advised me to hold off on any further treatment
as they wanted to save radiation as a last resort if
then I have completed another year at school, and graduated
with my Restorative Dental hygiene Diploma with Honours
and the Dean’s medal!
is precious to me and I live for the now always! I
would not have been able to get through the hardships
without such a great support network of family and
friends. My husband has been my lifeline from the beginning
to the end (he sent me to his family doctor at the
very beginning - 1997). It takes great strength
to deal with cancer from the outside. I cherish and
worship the strength he possesses.
am a 3 year cancer survivor and proud of it!
times a charm! I am now a three year cancer survivor!
Something I think about everyday as a life rule for
myself is this:
means waking up feeling healthy and alive each and
every day. Taking care of my body through exercise
and food is living strong. Being pure to myself and
respecting my body as a whole. With these as simple
tools, my attitude will conquer anything. I always
keep my friends and family involved in my life to ensure
the support system that I may need in the future to
help me persevere. All of the simple personal guidelines
are a recipe for a livestrong life! I
believe in the livestrong theory for the mind, spirit
is January 2007, and we are expecting our first child.
couldn’t be better. Livestrong!
TO TALES OF THE BATTLE