Before becoming a cancer survivor, I was also a mother to a 15-year-old daughter, a partner, and a nurse serving our nations veterans. On January 5, 2021, my life would change forever. My doctor delivered the most devastating news I had ever received in my life: I had a rare form of cancer called ewing sarcoma.
It was just before Christmas 2020 when I found a lump on my upper chest near my sternum. I never imagined it would be cancerous. Even if the thought crossed my mind, I wouldn’t entertain it. I eventually decided to get it checked out because it was so new and felt so odd. After an x-ray, CT, and MRI I was referred to a thoracic surgeon, still not believing that it could be cancer. My thoracic surgeon decided that it was best to have the tumor removed right away, so there I was in the hospital having surgery just a couple of days before Christmas.
When my pathology came back a few weeks after surgery (after a second opinion) I officially diagnosed with ewing sarcoma. It was difficult to find out that I had cancer. Not only because it was during the holidays, but I was also feeling isolated and alone due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Everything happened so fast, and it was completely unexpected. I really believed that there was no way the tumor was going to be cancerous. I was in shock. I was 37 and had a 15-year-old daughter that I desperately wanted to watch grow up. Everything felt like it was crashing down around me. Even though my cancerous tumor was removed, and there was no other malignancy found in my body, I would still have to endure 14 rounds of adjuvant chemotherapy. This is when things really became hard, and I had to dig deep within myself and rely on faith, hope, family, and friends.
Throughout chemo I have had no choice but to believe that there was going to be a positive outcome when therapy is completed. When I catch myself falling into a rut or worrying about my cancer outcome, I find comfort in connecting with my family, calling up friends, or working on my art journal to keep myself distracted. Remaining hopeful has been no easy task. I am grateful to the people in my life that help me stay grounded and positive.
Cancer treatment comes with many, many, many difficult days. Days where I must be completely vulnerable. This is particularly challenging because I have always been such an independent person. I get so weak that I cannot get out of bed, put socks on, or even shower sometimes. Some days I lie in bed and cry because I am frustrated with my inability to do much of anything. During those hard days after chemo, knowing I have such a supportive family really helps me deal. I have learned that I do not have to face this alone and that it is okay to accept help when I need it.
We all know that life is not guaranteed, any day can be our last. Having a rare form of cancer has taught me that life is meant to be lived to the fullest and experienced with those you love. The Northwest sarcoma foundation has served as a great resource for virtual events to help me and my family connect with others who also are going through similar experiences. Knowing that there are a lot of wonderful, kind, and giving people in the world makes the tough hills a little easier to climb.