Life has a way of reminding us there is more to learn, experience, and grow from. I see this in another journey my life is taking. In the fall of 2015 after having an MRI for a knee injury from running, the test detected irregular bone signals that led doctors to the diagnoses of the worst stage of a rare subtype of cancer called Multiple Myeloma (a blood plasma/bone marrow cancer). This form of cancer is not usually found in people of my age and activity level. It was an incredible shock and a fluke that it was found, but it was a blessing this was diagnosed at that point in time. Within a month I was very sick and needed4 blood transfusions. I had to quit my clinical fellowship as a speech-language pathologist and just work 1 day per week in my companies private practice clinic helping out with research and clerical work. Being a part of the Hello Foundation has been an incredible blessing as they have encouraged me by providing opportunities to continue working that are flexible to my situation dealing with this cancer.
My subtype of cancer is supposed to be resistant and aggressive, but for me I have miraculously responded during the introductory chemotherapy that I have had since January. I started out with approximately 99% cancer saturation throughout all my bone marrow in my body and now the cancer is undetectable at this time which allows me the ability to try to fight this cancer with a stem cell transplant. Although this form of cancer is incurable, with potential serious issues, I am focusing on the present and the process I am undergoing now to improve my health. I hope to beat the odds and statistics and get into a deep remission for many years.
Things have been coming together in miraculous ways! My brother Dave's wife Michele just happens to work for Compass Oncology and was able to get me in with a specialist (one of the best here in Portland) when he had a flight cancel. In December, before we knew what was going on, my oldest daughter, Vanessa moved to an apartment 10 minutes from my house.Other great blessings have occurred including the timing of my son Alex's return home from his two year church mission in Argentina. The timing was such that Vanessa, Alex, Kyle, Austin, and Danielle were all close by so we could together deal with this news and plan a positive approach for this fight. I am so grateful for all my family/extended family and their love and support. I love them dearly!!!!!
With this cancer fight, many changes have occurred with my body affecting my strength and endurance and I have had to accept changes to my future plans with my family, job, other activities and adventures. Although we know this cancer always returns and I will have some lifestyle modifications and be forced to slow down (which I am not very good at), my doctor and I are very hopeful. I know Heavenly Father is watching out for me and my kids!
With this process I am learning more about who I am and what continues to matter most to me....that I am a child of God, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a coworker,and a cancer fighter/survivor. As the first difficult rounds of chemotherapy have done their job, to clear my body of the cancer in my bone marrow, my wonderful doctor was able to conclude I am ready for a stem cell transplant. This process uses my own cells which will hopefully bring positive results. If successful, the transplant will allow me more time with my family and friends in my journey here.
On Monday, May 23, 2016, I began the next part in this cancer fight. I am staying at the hospital for approximately 2 weeks as I have to be in a sterile environment while I undergo an extensive chemotherapy round before the stem cell transplant. This will be so that my new stem cells that were harvested can be reintroduced into my body and will hopefully be accepted and start doing their jobs. This round of chemotherapy will be difficult with the effects on my body, energy, nausea, and hair loss, but I have high hopes in the results being positive.
The months to come will be a cautious and careful time trying to keep my immune system safe and healthy as the doctors will have to see if this process will help give me my health and more time. I am determined to still have fun with life and make the most of this new, but challenging adventure. As I stay at the hospital and also start recovery at my home, I face the unnatural part for me of sitting still and resting. What has helped me through is the love, support, and prayers from my wonderful and caring family and friends, including my dear friend Andy, who has been an incredible support and has brought such joy into my life during this difficult time. I have been so blessed to receive encouragement and support from many people including; my friends from Sherwood and Salem, work colleagues, friends from grad school and from Kennedy Elementary, and many others that have touched my life.
I love hearing from you and appreciate all your love and support. Though I may not feel well enough to answer or have time to get back to you all individually, please know that I have gained strength from your thoughts, prayers, and communications.