The photo is Amber ringing the bell after the last treatment on July 18, 2017 .
Ms Everly, Amber's baby girl truly saved her mom's life, before starting her own! Her Cancer wouldn't have been discovered as early as December 2016, if Amber wasn't pregnant with Everly, as she would have scheduled her routine exam late the following year.
I'm reaching out to those who may or may not know my
daughter Amber Appleton. Her Cancer journey begins in December 2016....
Her pregnancy was wonderful; there were no indications of any complications or issues.
In December in her third trimester during the routine exam, her OB doctor notices something questionable. Tests were ordered which showed pre-cancer that could be taken care of. The GYN doctor didn't seem too concerned but, had some urgency due to the pregnancy. She was immediately referred to a GYN Oncologist, that horrifid her. The Oncologist doctor confirmed the pre-cancer. Amber needed to make a decision to have the surgery, while pregnant, to take out the pre-cancer cells or wait.
Taking the risk of losing her unborn baby was not an option, waiting until after the baby was born was the immediate choice. She was due in a few weeks on March 2, 2017, what would a few weeks hurt. The doctors kept a watchful eye on her...
On March 2nd Everly arrived, she weighed a healthy 6.1 lbs. and 18" long. She was beautiful. The family instantly
fell in love with her, for many reasons...
In April 2017, approx. 4 weeks after Everly was born Amber went in for outpatient surgery to remove the pre-cancer cells and to have her tubes tied. Soon after that she completed a PET scan to see if Cancer was anywhere else in her body. The PET scan caused a strain on taking care of her new born and 17 month old son Phynn. She couldn't hold her children or breast feed Everly for 24 hours due to the radiation after the scan.
A week later her OB doctor called, 15 minutes before a long anticipated phone interview for a job promotion and told her the cancer has spread and to schedule an appt. with her oncologist ASAP. Needless to say the interview didn't go well as you could imagine and no job promotion.
Her Oncologist told her she had stage 1B1 Cervical Cancer with unknown cause. That it's a low stage however, it's aggressive and moves quickly.
On May 16th a radical hysterectomy was scheduled to remove her cervix, uterus and upper vaginal area leaving only the ovaries. They also removed lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread. The recovery was difficult and painful. After surgery the doctor said the surgery went great, they will be testing the lymph nodes with results in a week. Otherwise, the cancer appears to be gone. She struggled leaving the hospital due to issues going to the bathroom leaving with a catheter in place. Three days later, a trip to the ER with an inpactment, which was very painful and embarrassing (with the catheter still in place). Then an infection set into one of the incisions.This just added to the already increasing challenges she has been enduring.
It was hard on her not being able to take care of her family, not to mention a newborn needing a lot of attention as well. She had to stop breastfeeding which was devastating for her. I stayed with the family for 3 weeks taking care of the babies, house and Amber. My guy Mark took her to many of her treatments, at times bearing gifts of Dutch Bros Coffe or burritos as she could taste these (she lost most of her taste during and for quite a while afterwards). Her mother in-law, Cindy came out to relieve me and help out as well. Greg her husband continued to work and help at home when possible. Family and friends were supportive throughout this stressful time.
A week after the surgery on May 25th, the catheter was removed and her oncologist then told her the cancer had spread into a lymph node. She will need further treatments of Radiation and Chemotherapy.
As you can imagine the stress was overwhelming and taking a toll on her body and now the fear of this next treatment and how was she going to handle it...
June13th the day of her oldest sons 14th birthday was the first day of her radiation/chemo journey. She went 5 days a week for radiation for 25 days. Add in chemo treatment every Tuesday after radiation. Lab work every week to keep more watchful eyes on her.
All of this took hours during each week. Chemo and Radiation wreaked havoc on her body and mind very early in the process. Medications helped with the chemo and radiation side effects but they too come with their own set of side effects. Did I mention she also fought an internal infection and an absessed tooth that couldn't be taken care of right away after treatments were done...
I watched my strong, vibrant, outgoing young daughter slowly loose strength, and control of her body. Not able to hold her newborn baby, her body and face so swollen it hurt to smile, bruising everywhere especially where the port was for the chemo infusions and cry... To see the light within her fade to an almost blank, distant lifelessness, was unbearable, as her mom, to helplessly watch.
The other thing they don't talk about is the financial hardship still goes on and gains momentum. Pay checks were cut in half and more bills continue to add on. There's a real need for after care therapy but gets cast to the side when a $50.00 co-pay verse diapers and formula takes priority.
So here we are at the part where Amber is working part-time, her husband Greg has since taken on a 2nd job She has gone back to work but can only manage part time due to the continuing fatigue.
Did I mention the baby is a lively 8 month old sitting and standing on her own and brother is going to be 2 and is very rascally (the 2's are coming in strong). Sleep is not an option for them which means Amber is up with both of them during the night as Greg is working both day and evenings. Exhaustion has become a way of life.
There have been friends and family who have been there unexpectedly dropping by with food, flowers, gift cards and air conditioner (the heat was in the 90's during this time at their home). The overwhelming acts of kindness have not been overlooked but have been graciously appreciated beyond words. Their need is still great as they move forward.
So those of you who are wondering, what can I do to help? This is where it will be most helpful - to keep a roof over their head, food, formula, diapers, bills and daycare - whatever is screaming the loudest to be paid.
On that note the family and I would like to extend our deepest gratitude for your heartfelt donations at this time of continued need...
On a very blessed note, Amber's recent PET Scan showed no sign of cancer after her treatments. Her next scan will be in 6 months and we pray to hear the same amazing news then!
Thank you, Lynn Schulz (Amber's mom)