It feels like it was just yesterday that the pain started in the groin of my leg. As a new resident to Los Angeles, CA, the only thing on my mind was work, so I could survive in the expensive city of my dreams. Hobbling to and from my air mattress, during the morning and night, became quite comical due to my professional and social life falling perfectly into place.
Thriving at work during the exciting month of September was a beautiful blessing. I was quickly on my way to being completely independent, and I was confident that I was going to make it. In addition to getting all my ducks in a row, I knew it was time to find a doctor and with my new (and awesome) insurance, I began seeing a chiropractor at the beginning of October.
With suggestions on better footwear and sitting positions while working from my desk, I figured this was going to take away my pain and get me back on track. I did notice a difference in my body’s behavior but my chiropractor was not convinced. Still recovering from the loss of my sister, I knew figuring out medial problems should always be a priority so I decided to find a doctor to run some tests on possible spinal issues.
My doctor was able to get me in quickly, which was great considering all the possibilities of sciatica, pinched nerves and spinal problems going through my head. With an order of a few MRI’s, I was out the door with hope that this journey was near its end.
During the month of November, I underwent 4 MRI’s of my full body and lower-back. Results came back showing that I did indeed have a spinal issue, referred to as “syrinx”, and would need to see a neurologist for further testing. I was happy to know that this was the case, something I was born with that really did not have any serious effects. After the new year, I immediately got in to see my neurologist to get this taken care of for 2015.
After seeing my neurologist through the month of January, she came to the conclusion that I only had a pinched nerve and that muscle relaxers and physical therapy would get me back to normal. Though I was happy to hear this news, I was still uneasy that this wasn’t the correct diagnosis. Needing to get back to a busy life, I took my directions and made plans to celebrate this small victory on Superbowl weekend.
On Saturday, January 31, 2015, one of my girlfriends and I started the night out with a steak dinner at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the pier in Santa Monica. I knew it was going to be one of my favorite nights because of how it was starting out and the plan to go to some of LA’s biggest nightclubs during such an exciting weekend. It did not take long for us to finish up dinner and head to our first stop in West Hollywood.
The bathrooms were slowly filling up with girls taking selfies as we took in the bass rumbles of our favorite songs and made our way to VIP. My friend hopped up on the booth as I grabbed the bouncer’s hand for some help. With one lunge, I jerked back in pain and quickly got nervous. I was wearing wedge heels so I wasn’t sure what the problem was. As soon as I grabbed my leg and the bouncer asked if I was okay, I nodded and proceeded to take a seat. The pain was excruciating and I just knew I had broken something. It did not take long for me to realize that a few swigs of vodka wasn’t going to cure this, so I decided to end this awesome night early and tell my friend I had to head home.
All my friends know I am always trying to keep it classy so I was more than thankful that this particular club wasn’t packed and very, dimly lit that night. My friend then asked me, “are you sure you can walk?” which led to a whole other ordeal of having to be carried out of the club by a very helpful bouncer. Though I was disappointed that going home had to be the answer, I assured my friend to stay out and that we’d hit the town tomorrow for the game.
On the 15 minute Uber ride home, the pain still had not faded. Luckily, the doctor had prescribed taking 4 Advil, so at that point I knew I could be strong once I got a hold of the bottle. Pulling up to my apartment was all fun and games until I realized how many steps I was actually walking up everyday. By the grace of God, the Uber driver carried me up two flights of steps and to my door. At this point, I was sure something was strained and pushed myself on the floor of my apartment to my room to avoid putting anymore weight on it. It took about 10 minutes to get myself into bed, about 20 minutes to down the prescribed Advil and 90 minutes to realize this pain wasn’t going to go away.
Calling 911 wasn’t something I wanted to do at all. The first and last time I had done so was for my sister Jillien, and the outcome was not an experience I wanted repeated in this case for my family or myself. I tried waiting it out for 45 more minutes, even calling the hospital to see if they could just send me an ambulance lol. Unable to even change my clothes, I knew the phone call had to be made. Within minutes paramedics were at my door, racing into my room and asking me questions. I gathered as many items as I could and sobbed as they rolled me out of my bedroom and apartment for the last time as a “normal” girl.
On the way to the hospital I couldn’t help thinking about the ambulance bill, how much trouble I was going to get in for being dramatic if this wasn’t a serious issue and how I felt like I was being kidnapped because I was alone. I had pretty much calmed my own nerves as I arrived into the ER and was given a room with nice nurses and immediate pain meds.
The immediate request of an X-Ray came and went, and while waiting I called my oldest sister to give her an update. We both decided that this was probably Sciatica and that I would be out and fine to get back to my weekend social events. As countless nurses poked my arms searching for a vein, the X-Ray results came in, showing a “cyst” in my left leg.
“oh so it’s just a cyst?” I asked.
“No. It’s not a cyst. Here’s the phone, you’ll need to call someone” she replied.
With other patients screaming behind their curtains, I called my sister back on my low battery phone and told her the news. With our most recent family history, there was no way I could tell my parents, especially since I didn’t believe it myself that I could have been growing a cancerous tumor this whole time.
Within 8 hours my Dad was at my Burbank hospital and continuous tests were being run. Under intense pain meds I had no idea what was going on and was having to quickly adjust from being out and partying with my friend to asking for help to use a commode in the hospital room. With one t-shirt and one pair of pants, my dad and I moved on to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, California, a few days later.
It was a wonderful blessing that the hospital and my surgeon, Dr. Allison, heavily requested a bed for me, because with the rarity of my case, there was nothing the previous hospital could do. With family members slowly trickling in, it took about two weeks for my doctors to find out that there was a 4 inch malignant tumor in my femur capable of being Rhabdomayo Sarcoma or Osteosarcoma. My incredibly shocked family continuously spoke of the odds, due to my sister losing her battle to a rare kidney disease just 2 years prior. All conversation set aside, my femur and hip was replaced February 17, 2015, just beginning my journey with this disease...
When I found out I had cancer for the second time, I knew something had to change.
My first experience with the disease taught me how to sort through my life and see what else was eating away from me, besides my tumor. There were so many lessons I had overlooked learning, so many practices I had been avoiding and so many things I was forgetting to be thankful for.
However, the fact that this second battle has presented itself has alerted me that there is something else I must learn. I can tell you that in 1 week, I have learned more about my body than I ever have. I have also made bigger promises to myself than I ever have.
As a recent cancer survivor heading to her second battle with this disease I have vowed to end this war once in for all. I have decided to adopt a fresh perspective, a deeper faith, a completely pure diet and acceptance...acceptance that I can win this fight and dedicate it to someone who could not do so.
I would like to invite all of you to watch me do so. Please follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest and watch me beat this disease in #90Days.
Though I have the support of my faith, family, friends and my amazing network in #TeamFusion, I need your help spreading the word that this disease can be defeated.