Meet Faith! She has been batteling Cancer for a year. With the battle she has under gone numerous surgeries and is having chemo treatments 3 days a week. She is staying as positive as she can during this time.
Here is her story in her words....
I don't think that I can do this "in a nutshell".....I don't know that I have really ever told "the whole story" ..... I don't think I ever wanted anyone to know. Soooo here goes....
This mess all started with a spot on my back.....now I know they always talked about watching dark spots for color, shape, and size change, but my spot was clear, and though the doctors told me not to worry about it, I did because it was changing in size. I remember going in for a massage at the beginning of May 2013 and laying on my back and the massage therapist working on my shoulder and her pulling her hand out & it being bloody. By the time I could get into the doctor the next day, my mystery spot was turning green. I remember them removing it that day & telling me not to worry. But I did....in silence. Then I got "the call"....you know, the dreaded call that deep down you know is coming but you do t want it too.....yup.....I got THAT call. I remember being at Alex's baseball game and it was a HOT day & I was sitting on the metal bleachers.....I remember walking away so if Alex turned around he wouldn't see the tears.....I don't remember much more of that conversation other than setting up the appointment with the oncologist and then calling my dad and the disappointment in his voice....not with me, but the situation.
I went to the oncologist appointment alone as I didn't want anyone to know....I just thought, the spot was removed, everything is good......life will be fabulous....& then I learned....which I had no idea....but did you know that cancer can grow roots....with my horticulture background, I was only aware of plants growing roots....not cancer. So the spot that was removed was called "clear cell sarcoma - slow". It had grown roots into my right shoulder blade and I now also had bone cancer. I was devastated....but me being me was focused on the positive...it was caught early, I had a fabulous oncologist as to whom I trusted.....we had a plan, a combination of chemo and radiation....I figured this could all be done "under cover" so no one had to know. And since to me, the word "cancer" was a death sentence....so the less that knew, the better it was.....and if you were one that knew & were in my space....you were not allowed to use the "C" word. To me, it was a swear word in my book....it meant death.....so my bone cancer in my shoulder became my "bad apple spot". My thought process was....just because an apple had a bad spot, it didn't make it a bad apple, you just cut it out and the apple was still good....so that was how I looked at this for me. So I continued - under the radar - trying to keep it on the down low so people didn't pity me, but knew me for me.....
Radiation and chemo began.... and most people just thought that I had the flu allot....other than those that knew....I didn't want any pity.....they respected my wishes. The doctors were optimistic that this would pass in my life fast. I had the regular complications but pushed forward.....and Oct 2013 I had surgery to have the bone cancer removed.....it was to be a happy day....I had crossed the finish line! However, there were more spots that the doctors were concerned about that they decided to remove and so when I had surgery to remove the cancer in my shoulder blade and they removed the spots. Everything seemed fine and it looked as though I had crossed my finish line. 2 weeks passed and no news seemed like good news. However, it wasn't, as it turned out the spot that was on the back of my right hand turned out to be clear cell sarcoma - rapid....& to make like more fun, when the spot was removed, the margins weren't large enough and so the cancer was cut into. The best way it was described to be so I could understand what happened was that it was like blowing on a white puffy dandelion....the seeds float and you don't know where it will land and grow. Things are kind of a blur from this point.....I was scared and felt defeated, but didn't want anyone to worry about the unknown.....so I kept going as if everything was great. Around Christmas 2013/New Years 2014....my head started hurting and bothering me allot. I hadn't had issues like this before....and then the news came....I had a brain tumor. I didn't know what to do, what to think or how to react. Tests.....tests....tests.....and more chemo. Then my 1st round at Gamma-Knife Radial surgery. Which failed. More tests, more chemo and trying to cover up my hair falling out and how ill I truly was as I didn't want sympathy or pity. April/May I went to Minneapolis for my second round at Gamma-Knife.....& this is when everything became real. My hair, gone....there was no more hiding. There was no more pretending everything was ok. Sooooo, for me, it was time to re-align. The "C" word was still a death sentence and I refused....still refuse....to be defeated. My way of coping is humor....so it was time for me to come back to being me....I named my tumor.....Hank. Why Hank?? When I started to admit to people that I had a tumor the common response was "oh shit". So I started thinking about things that made me laugh....which brought me back to thinking about high school and college and my friends who loved South Park...and "Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo" made me laugh.....so my tumor became Hank. Hank turned out to be allot like me, stubborn. Hank wrapped himself around a vessel in my brain. Time frames and exactly what happened from here is a bit of a blur. Chemo, radiation, nasty pills, throwing up, and being knocked on my butt. But I refuse to be defeated. My toilet became "Ralph John McFlushington, the 3rd" the 3rd made him sound more distinguished! My bed became "Matt" and my IV pole became "Rusty" just because it sounded so wrong. A benefit was thrown for me, which I still am so grateful for.....being sick is expensive! LOL. Friends and family rallied around me & still respected me and my need for privacy. I wanted to attend my appointments alone as I wanted to protect my mental attitude. I believe if you know what "stage of the C- word" you are, it only gives power to the "C" word. Think about it....if you hear that someone has "Stage 1 breast cancer" your mental attitude goes too, "oh, they will beat this, no problem! However, if you hear someone say "Stage 4 liver cancer" your mind goes to...."Crap, I hope the family can cope." I REFUSE to give power to the "C" word. To me, Hank is just a temporary thing....he will not make or break me.....he will try, but he won't succeed. He's like that crappy boyfriend that just doesn't get that he isn't wanted anymore and it takes your big brother or awesome guy friend to kick his butt so he leaves.
End of October 2014, I had another laser surgery to kill the cancer/tumor.....maybe the scariest yet as I lost a good portion of my memory. Although, I do have to laugh because people will ask me what I lost or don't remember....LOL....you don't know what you don't know. The doctors all said I wouldn't get back what I lost....and though I know I don't have it all....I have regained some. Sometime after the surgery the tumor released from my brain....but is still tangled in the vessel. And then Hank became scarier, as his weight is to much for the vessel. Another blow came when it was discovered that not all of the cancer cells were killed as they had hoped would happen. Back to chemo and steroids I went....3 times a week I have dates with Rusty. Procedures were preformed to break up Hank, but again, he is like me, and stubborn. The Monday before Christmas 2014 my chemo strength was increased. I receive steroids to keep the vessel strong.
It's now the beginning of Feb 2015 and I am still trying to break it off with Hank....and now, Hank Jr as well. At the end of January we had freezing rain and I managed to fall and literally bounce my head off the sidewalk taking my little man to school one morning. That was allot not good and made a mess for me in my head with the Hanks. I had a total of 6 procedures in 2014 and am preparing for another very soon.
I work very hard on my mental attitude & staying positive. I refuse to let Hank and his little buddy defeat me. The "C" that was in my right hand is in remission. So now it's just the Hanks that need to go away. I know that I have stayed strong and pushed hard to this point. I will continue to push and fight. I am sticking to my guns of refusing to know what "stage" I am as it doesn't matter, I won't give it the power over me....so please don't ask what stage I am as I don't want to know. I am very grateful for my friends and family who continue to stay strong and stand by my side. I know my fight isn't over yet.....but hopefully soon.
- Justin Gerhardt
- Alicia Cebulla
- Mary Ann Anderson
- Dan Retzlaff
- Beth Hillenbrand
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