Mandi's Fight Against Cancer
Mandi is a beautiful, motivated, caring person from the inside out and I am blessed to know her and to be able to call her a good friend of mine. While going back to school for Cardiovascular Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Mandi found out that she has Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She is not a quitter and as such she is continuing her school program to achieve her career goals while she undergoes chemo treatment, works, studies, and helps raise her kids and grand baby. She never gives up. She is strong-willed and strong in her faith. Mandi did not want to create her own Go Fund Me account because she is such a fighter and does not like to feel like she is putting anyone out, but cancer treatments are expensive. We, her friends, are asking you to help with any amount you can to assist her in her fight as well as asking for your prayers for healing and continued strength. She is an amazing person and I know she will one day be cancer-free!
For those of you reading this who may not know me, I’ll give you my story. I started my journey back to school because my chosen career path as a medical transcriptionist was coming to an end thanks to technology. After nearly 20 years of being out of school and being in one profession, I had to make the choice for myself and my family to go to college and get a degree in a field that would provide us with stability in the years to come. During the process, my realization of dreams that I had put on hold became clear, and with the support of my loving husband, my son, and my two stepchildren, I enrolled in the very rigorous Cardiovascular Diagnostic Medical Sonography program.
It’s been three years since I started down this road…taking prerequisite courses, working full-time (every weekend), being a full-time mom and wife, going 7 days a week without a break for months on end, finally being accepted into the DMS program, working my tail off to keep a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and ultimately finishing my first clinical rotation this summer. I have never been happier…or more stressed! Juggling family, school, work, football games, soccer games, team meals, holidays, vet visits for the dog, doctor appointments, etc., has been quite challenging. There have been sacrifices made by all involved, but my husband and kiddos have been so incredibly supportive. They have been my biggest cheerleaders, regardless of the crazy schedule they have had to endure. But there is light at the end of the tunnel! Graduation is slated for May 2017, and I cannot wait to start my new adventure as a cardiovascular sonographer! Or so I hope…
Midway through my summer clinical rotation, I found a mass in my left breast which doctors felt was suspicious for cancer. The mass started out the size of a grape, but it rapidly grew to about the size of an egg within one month. After a myriad of tests, they determined the mass was diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s. I was staged as 1E, with no lymph node sites involved. From what I understood about cancer staging, that sounded quite promising. However, after three consultations with medical oncologists, they can’t give me a definite answer. I have what is known as “primary breast lymphoma” which accounts for less than 1% of all non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas in the world. It’s extremely rare, and they’re not entirely sure how to treat it or how to prevent recurrence. My team has come up with a treatment plan of three cycles of R-CHOP chemotherapy, followed by a PET scan. If the PET scan is clear, we’ll move on to radiation. If not, we’ll try one more round of chemo. They tell me this is the best science has to offer for right now, and I’m praying it’s going to work.
When I was first diagnosed, I felt as if my life was crumbling down around me. To be smacked in the face with a word like “cancer,” and then have percentages of the likelihood of treatment working and life expectancy thrown at you is enough to break anyone’s spirit. I can’t even begin to tell you what goes through your mind during a conversation like that…or what goes through your mind in the days following. As a mom, my first concern was my son. He’s only 16…he still needs me! I haven’t taught him all I was sent to this earth to teach him. Will he be okay without me? Will he have me there at all of his Friday night games to cheer him on? Will he have me there at his graduation? His wedding? The birth of his first baby??? And what about my husband? Men always seem so much weaker than women when they lose a spouse. Will he be okay if I didn’t pull through this? And what about my schooling? I have worked so hard to get this far. Graduation is within reach! Will I have to drop out? I can’t do clinicals and chemo at the same time because of my immune system. How will I make up the hours? I’m going to be out of a job in February…if I don’t graduate in May, how will we survive financially? The thoughts running through my head 24/7 were enough to drive me mad and keep me up all hours of the night. And then I remembered my faith…everything happens for a reason and it is out of my control.
I’ve been told over the years that God places certain people in your life for different reasons, and I am beyond blessed to be surrounded by an amazing support system full of family, old friends, new friends, and cancer survivors willing to share their wisdom and encouragement. Being accepted into the DMS program at school was more than just a stepping-stone in my career. God’s timing never ceases to amaze me, and He has placed me in a class filled with such caring, loving, thoughtful individuals who have surrounded me with an astonishing amount of positivity. It was my classmates who saw I needed help (help I don’t like to admit I need), and it was their extreme generosity that brought this GoFundMe page to life. For that, I thank you dear friends.
I just had my second round of chemo, and the tumor is responding beautifully so far. While I’m taking a hiatus from my clinicals, I am continuing my classes in the hopes that I will have time to make up my clinical hours before graduation so that I may walk with my classmates…my family. Though some days I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck, I am handling treatment well and have yet to miss a class…or a Friday night football game (just my head may be a little colder).
I have many bible verses close to my heart that are helping me get through this ordeal, but one of my favorites is, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee (Psalms 55:22).” That, my friends, is something I have to remind myself every day. We have no control…give it to God and let Him handle it. What will be, will be. Doors will open and things will work out as they should, and in the mean time, LIVE LIFE!
Thank you to all who give and/or send a prayer my way. I continue to be amazed and astonished at the amount of generosity and encouragement everyone has shown me. It does not go unnoticed, and I am forever grateful for each and every one of you in my life. Until the next update…