In December of 2016, I was honorably discharged from the United State Army. I served a total of 8 years active duty with a deployment to Camp Red Cloud South Korea and another to Bagram, Afghanistan. After being released from the Army, my husband (Noah Sankovich) and I were ready to come back to Missouri and continue serving our community as police officers.
In January 2017, my husband re-joined the St. Robert Police Department and I began a six month long academy to become a Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper. The academy was academically and physically challenging in every aspect. While in the academy in May 2017, we were surprised to discover we were expecting our first child. With two months of training still left in the academy I was terrified. I did not know how I was going to complete the academy physically. With much support from the Colonel all the way down to my instructors, I was able to successfully graduate from the Missouri State Highway Patrol academy and became a Missouri State Trooper. I was very proud and felt humbled to have the opportunity to serve the people of Missouri. Since I was pregnant, and for my safety and the safety of my baby, I was placed on light duty work. Due to being pregnant I saw my OB/GYN regularly for routine baby check-ups.
In October 2017, I noticed a strange lump in my left breast. There was no visible sign of the mass other than you could feel it to the touch. I asked my OB/GYN about the spot and he was not sure what it could be. He set me up with an ultrasound and later a biopsy. The biopsy came back from Mayo Clinic that it was in fact primary Angiosarcoma Cancer. Angiosarcoma is a rare form of cancer that is in the connective tissue. It can develope in serveral different places in the body. Mine just happens to be in my breast. Not only is this type of cancer rare but it is also known to be pretty aggressive and spreads rapidly. I had two masses in my left breast and both of them were large enough that removing them was not an option until after chemotherapy and radiation was completed. By this time I was eight months pregnant. After several discussions with multiple doctors and the cancer board, it was in the best interest for my daughter to be induced so that I could start to receive treatment right away. I was induced the following week and had my daughter. Aylah Jean Sankovich was born on December 2, 2017, weighing in at 7lbs 1oz. She was healthy, beautiful, and happy.
Two days after giving birth I was getting my MRI brain, breast, CT Scan, and Bone Scan. The scans revealed that the cancer had not metastasized and was located in one area. In all of this, I found comfort in knowing that although the cancer I have has a terrible reputation I was already beating the odds and it had not spread. We knew it would be a long road with 12 rounds of chemotherapy with Gemzar and Taxatere, 12 rounds of cheomtherapy and radiation with Taxol and surgery to remove the two masses.
I finished my first 12 rounds of chemotherapy and came out feeling pretty positive. I lost my hair which was probably one of the hardest things to go through. We don't often think about how much our hair is a part of our identity. It took almost two weeks before I could look at myself in the mirror. But I guess I considered myself pretty lucky because the doctor said I was a stellar patient and did not have alot of complications from the chemo.
Round 2 of chemotherapy has been pretty rough to say the least. The Chemo drugTaxol and I are not faring so well. The first three times I received the drug I have had reactions where I got super hot super fast, short of breath, nauseaus, severe lung and back pain and a rash all during treatment. To help my body accept the drug they have heavily increased my steriod and benadryl dose each week. The reactions have subsided but the after effects from the steriods and the Taxol are a nightmare. The steriods give me terrible anxiety and restlessness until they wear off and then my body just shuts down and I have no energy to even get out of bed. But there is some positive to all of this. My little girl is my angel and she keeps me going even on the days when I don't think I can endure anymore. And my radiologist is one of the best and so far I have not had any issues with the radiation. I have six more weeks of chemo and radiation and then we will know if the treament is working and the masses are shrinking. We will also be able to schedule a surgery date to remove the masses and finally begin to recover!
It’s been a long journey thus far and I don’t know where I would be without the love and support of friends, family and even strangers. I have been humbled and deeply touched by so many for all the prayers, cards, phone calls, food deliveries and hugs. I know God will get me through this for he has already sent me my little miracle. Thank you for taking the time to read this and supporting me and my family through this journey.
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