On May 12, 2017, I gave birth to my second child and was already the mother of a 1-year-old. A few good days in the hospital until I suddenly fell ill. My chest hurt, a pain so sharp, so crippling. I could no longer breath. I was hunched over, screaming in agony. What the hell is going on? My doctor thought I had a blood clot in my lungs from the caesarian section I had to have. Why else would a perfectly healthy, strong, and young woman have her lungs so full of fluid and why else would her heart be stopping?....Wrong. I almost wish this would've been true. It could've been better than the alternative. Emergency transportation to a larger hospital, many CT scans later, and "YOU HAVE CANCER." What? This can't be real life. I'm only 25-years-old. I have a 4-day-old daughter and a 1-year-old son at home. I'm in a happy marriage to a wonderful man.
When you're diagnosed with cancer, you initially react 1 of 2 ways. Fight or flight. 1. You cry and immediately go downhill or 2. You immediately go into defense mode. I was the latter. The first question I asked the doctor after he made this disgusting statement to me was "Okay, how to I beat it?" There were so many questions with absolutely no answers. I had to be seen by an oncologist after getting about 15 more tests done. He'd have the answers. The emergency room doctor did not have the answers to my questions but he really had the best answer of all without even knowing it. He sent me to a colleague of his, an oncologist who really knew his shit and seriously saved my life.
My cancer was very aggressive. As it turned out, my form of Hodgkins Lymphoma was one of the most curable cancers. However, mine turned out to be an aggressively growing mass that was pushing against my heart and lungs. It was large, and basically grew over night. It was in a terrible place and caused complications. PLUS, seeing as how I needed to start chemotherapy right away, and I had just had a baby,...well this wasn't great either. My body was still intensely healing from the birth and surgery and now we had to completely poison my already severely weak body. I had to do it. I had to sacrifice time with my new family so I could still be around for the rest of life's precious moments. My chemotherapy was insane. I was told it was the most a person could possibly have with the unbelievably strong dosing of drugs being pushed into a human.
I basically lived at the hospital for 6 months during treatments, because as if chemotherapy and it's regular side effects aren't enough, it caused me to lose control of my legs. Each treatment paralyzed me from the waist down. Taking days to be able to move again, I'd have a couple of days of movement before going back to the poison laboratory. Severe, diffuse, peripheral chemo-induced neuropathy. A now permanent diagnoses. At least now, in 2021, I can walk. I still have severe pain but I can walk.
During the 6 months I spent in hospital, my Mom and Grandmother moved across the country to stay with my husband and kids. My husband was still working so he could pay the bills. The amount of support I got through my fight with cancer was unreal. Friends and family helped make meals, transport me to the hospital, watched my kids, sent me money, cut the grass, you name it, someone did it. It's true, what they say about who you discover are your true friends during a crisis, they're your real friends, they're more like family. Everyone stepped up, did whatever they were able to, just to help me in my time of need. I was already worried about beating cancer, I didn't want to have to worry about anything else. I didn't want to worry about my husband leaving me, because apparently, a seriously high percentage of couples separate when one of them is diagnosed with a critical illness. I shouldn't have had to worry about anything BUT living. And guess what? I didn't have to.
My husband spent more time at the hospital with me than he did working or at home. He helped me shave the rest of my head when most of my hair was gone. He brought home a comfortable rocking chair for me to sleep on when I was home since I had to sleep sitting up; laying down made me throw up and made me dizzy. He held me tight whenever I'd cry, which was very often. He got me emergency help when I was threatening to take my own life. He was the strength I needed to be successful. He was the love I needed when my heart was breaking. He was the reason I didn't have to fight alone. My mother who took a leave from work was the reason I didn't have to fight alone. My Grandmother who uplifted her life to move across the country was the reason I didn't have to fight alone. My neighbour who made freezer meals for my family was the reason I didn't have to fight alone. My co-worker who drove me 250kms to my treatment centre was the reason I didn't have to fight alone.
When a critical illness is diagnosed, friends and family come together to show support. If you don't have any friends or family, or even if you do, there are so many services out there who can help you. No one needs to go at this alone. No one needs to feel like their life is worthless. Seek help and don't be afraid to be selfish. Your health is priority.
NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE.