Life will always surprise you. It was only six years ago that I gave up waiting on my Hogwarts letter and made my second-best choice of attending muggle college. Four short years later I graduated from the University of Denver with my dream degree in Hospitality Management and began working the front desk at a brand new luxury hotel in downtown Denver. One year later I found my way into the accounting department and my boyfriend began his dream journey in medical school. I didn’t have a magic wand to do my chores and I wasn’t receiving my mail by owl but things were still pretty perfect. Well almost perfect, my student loans came calling and I was living paycheck to paycheck but ends were meeting and things were how they should be. Then I found the mole.
Everything seemed normal at first. I felt fine and the mole removal seemed more like an annoyance than a serious problem. But, before I knew it, I found an enlarged lymph node near the mole site and I was officially on a medical rollercoaster. I had always dreamed of the experiencing the tossing and turning of a World Cup Quidditch match but the emotional equivalent in the medical world was not nearly as fun. Over the next two months I went through an additional excision, a lymph node biopsy, and a lymph node removal in seemingly rapid succession; each time waiting nervously for results. The excision came back inconclusive and the biopsy came back negative. If I was too normal to be a wizard then at least my lymph node was too. I thought I was out of the woods until the doctor called with the lymph node removal results. Things were far from normal, they had found melanoma.
Melanoma. People my age are not supposed to get cancer. Sure I played outside when I was a kid and I enjoy swimming and other outdoor activities now but I have rarely ever sunburned and I actually prefer curling up with my Harry Potter books to a day in the sun. Either way, I have cancer. And the news only got worse from there. I hoped that the melanoma was small, that it was only in my left leg where I found the mole and the lymph node. When the doctor called with my PET scan results my heart stopped and my life changed forever. The melanoma was not only in my leg, it was in my liver, my lungs, my spleen, my bones, and my brain.
A cancer diagnosis is not the end; it is the beginning. The beginning of a fight that is more important than any other fight. Ironically it seems similar to fighting an evil wizard who hid a piece of his broken soul in a scar on my forehead. I know that I have the best people in my corner and I have no intention of giving up. I have plans to realize my dreams, to dance, to laugh, to get married, to have kids, and to live the life that God gave me. I have the best doctors in the world caring for me and the best support system to help me in between. But unfortunately medical care is not free; and that is why I am asking for your help.
I first and foremost need money for my treatment. Chemotherapeutic pills, IV cancer therapy, precisely targeted radiation, and side effect managing medications are all incredible medical advances that provide hope to so many cancer patients like me but their costs also pile up quickly. Right now it’s even too early to estimate the ultimate cost of my treatment. On top of medical bills, I also have student loan and rent payments that consume nearly all of my income even after I minimized my expenditures. If only I had gotten my Hogwarts letter; I don’t remember Harry, Ron, or Hermione ever paying tuition. I only ask for help to pay my bills in the coming months until I am physically ready to return to work and get my life back.
I am truly blessed for all of my wonderful family and friends. My fight against cancer is not a fight that I will be facing alone but rather with a team of supporters both near and far. Any help that you can give me will be greatly appreciated and will help me overcome the most important hurdle of my young adult life. If you are able to donate to my fight, please leave me your address so that I can send you a thank you card and a supporter sticker. The stickers are from an advanced melanona foundation called Melanoma Just Got Personal (see link below). You can post a picture of you and your sticker on social media with the hashtag “Melanoma Just Got Personal” and you will officially be on team Elizabeth! If you cannot donate, prayers and thoughts are also encouraged and appreciated. It takes all forms of help to beat cancer! I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. God’s ways are certainly mysterious and I don’t know why He placed these obstacles in front of me but I am ready to overcome them and have faith that things will turn out okay. Together, we will beat melanoma.
- Alexis Nigoghosian
- Marti Mueller
- Phuong Nguyen
- Valerie Bickell
- Lucas Jozefkowicz
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