Christine Edwards, my mother, is the strongest person on this planet. Her determination and will power to achieve the impossible is absolutely extraordinary. She refused to use that word, impossible, because she doesn’t believe in it. She believes and she knows that she can and she will overcome any obstacle that gets in her way. She’s not going to ever give up, so neither will I, And neither should the rest of you.
My mother’s battle with cancer began when she was just a baby. She had a rare tumor that was surgically removed at only 18 months old. At age 31 her cancer came back, this time in the form of breast cancer. Although she was older this time around, she was battling cancer while trying to raise my sister and I. She underwent a double mastectomy as well as chemotherapy. With the help of her incredible treatment team at Dana Farber, she was able to successfully subdue her cancer into submission for over 10 years.
In 2006 her breast cancer came back. It had spread to her lymph nodes – so back to Dana Farber she went for more treatment. Despite the troubling developments in her health, my mother never once thought about giving up. She quickly began radiation and kicked cancer’s A** for a third time!! We were all so proud of her; and she was so proud of herself! I mean it’s kind of hard not to be! You’ve got to be some kind of superhero to accomplish what she has!
We had a brief moment of relief – a couple more years of “normalcy” as far as her health was concerned, but then – more crippling news came in 2010. Another form of cancer had developed, Neuro-endocrine carcinoid originally affecting her intestines. Yet again – surgery was the best option. Sadly, cancer was not the only diagnosis this time around. She learned she has an extremely rare hereditary disorder called Li Fraumeni Syndrome. Li Fraumeni Syndrome is a disorder that drastically increases the risk of developing several types of cancer.
With this new diagnosis came the devastating realization that if she had this disorder, her children may as well. The love my mother has for my sister and I is so incredibly over-whelming, so I am sure that was one of the scariest moments of her life, but like I said – she never gives up. Even when she was completely shattered, she kept fighting. She’s never stopped.
Her treatments were helping, she was feeling strong. She and my step-dad decided they wanted a change of pace. In 2013, with the cancers under control again, they decided to go on an exhilarating journey all around the US. They wound up settling down in North Carolina. They were happy, we were happy, and it seemed like her health scares had finally plateaued, or so we had thought.
In early 2015, everything took a turn for the worst. Her health plummeted and her cancer was now in her liver. When trying to obtain treatment from her Doctor’s in North Carolina, she was given a prognosis of two weeks. TWO WEEKS. That is still so difficult to me to say. At that time, I was about 5 months pregnant. I was carrying her first granddaughter, whom she was now being told she wouldn’t live to meet. Well that was not going to fly with my mother. When I received that phone call I could barely breathe. I felt numb. She told me they had just left the hospital, were stopping at home to grab the dog, and they would be back to Boston in 12 hours. There was no way in hell my mom was going to sit on her A** and throw in the towel. She is a fighter and she was not giving up.
She came back to Boston, not only to be surrounded by family, but also to receive treatment from the people who had cared for her throughout her battle with this disease. Her Doctors at Dana know what she is capable and they weren’t about to give up either. Although the scales were not tipped in her favor – they knew, if anyone could do it, it was her.
My sister and I awaited her arrival at my grandparent’s house that night. When she walked thru the door I could barely recognize her. She was yellow and just so small. She looked so fragile. I just wanted to hug her and never let go. The very next day, we went to Dana for treatment. Her Doctors were upfront and honest that treating her was a longshot, a “Hail-Mary” but they were willing to do it.
Treatment began immediately – a very intensive form of chemo-therapy and a concoction of many other medications. Hospice became involved right away – and for weeks I could barely sleep. I was terrified to wake up to more devastating news. Whenever my phone would buzz my stomach felt like it dropped to my knees.
Weeks went by and she slowly began to improve. Then months – we were beginning to see and feel the change in her body and energy. In August of 2015 she was able to witness the birth of her granddaughter. A moment we were told she would not be alive to enjoy. Later that month, she was blessed with the opportunity to send her grandson off to kindergarten. In December of 2015 – she and my stepdad were confident enough in her health to get their own place again. Hospice was no longer involved – her in home care had been decreased to a visiting nurse just a few times a week. Her Doctors were mind-blown to say the least. She once again proved to us all – that nothing is impossible!
To this day – my mother is still receiving daily and monthly treatment for her 2 current forms of active cancer. This treatment has been successfully maintaining the cancer in my mother’s body… or so we thought. About 3 weeks ago – we discovered that her treatment is no longer effective. The cancer in her bones is growing and we are scared to death. There are so many more wonderful things that my mother deserves to experience – this is not her time. She is not ready to give up and neither are we. That is why I am asking you all for your help. Our goal is to raise $50,000 to help cover medical expenses, alternative therapies, and supplements as well as to alleviate of the financial stress she and my step-dad are facing. We love you all and thank you for everything. I would also like to make you all aware - there will be an event to help raise money for my mother at Kimball Farm in Haverhill. Please contact me for details!
Written by Christine's Daughter,
From The Survivor Herself
I think I was born a survivor, a fighter. At not even a year and a half old I was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer, that had a very low survival rate. I was treated at the Jimmy fund and Dana Farber and was followed there until I was 18 years old. At that time they said I no longer needed to be followed. At the age of 31 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and received treatment (surgery and chemotherapy). I had 2 beautiful young daughters and was feeling great, this was definitely not part of my plan. Thanks to the support of family and friends that challenge was overcome. 11 years later, again feeling fantastic, I had made it past the 10 year mark, the breast cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. I was once again at Dana Farber for treatment (they are the best). At this point I became interested in natural and holistic healing options, I promised myself IF I had to deal with this again I would explore alternative therapies to support traditional treatments. Well 2010 rolls around and not only do I get another cancer diagnosis, but it is a completely different cancer this time. Once again treated with surgery, luckily this is slow growing and not causing problems. I am also told I have a rare genetic disorder called Li Fraumeni's syndrome. Fantastic! Jump to 2013, the girls are grown doing their own thing. Pete and I decide to sell the house go on a terrific journey around the country and move to North Carolina. 2015, Ok Spirit, there are nicer ways to get me back to Massachusetts, April of 2015, in North Carolina I am told I have two weeks to live, Pete and I look at at one another and say HECK NO! We pack the dog and a few clothes in my car and head north. Several months of 'Hail Mary' passes from the doctors at Dana Farber and I am on the familiar road to recovery. Phew.... That was a close one.
This brings us to the present, daily and monthly treatment continues, but unfortunately the cancer has spread to my bones. Remember my promise to myself in 2006, I am now going to follow through with it, with the help and support of my loved ones.
I will keep you posted on my story of Victory ❤
My mom is awesome. She is the first person I go to when I need advice. She's the reason I have the confidence that I have. She's the first person to remind me that I'm awesome when I'm feeling down and she's my inspiration to remind others that they're awesome too. I love her more than she knows and I can't imagine my life without her. I hope that day is far away, afterall she's always said she is going to live to be 100. Attitude is everything and my mom has the best attitude when it comes to dealing with her cancers: I will be victorious! I believe that if anyone can do it she can. With the generosity of those of you kind enough to contribute, my mom plans to seek alternative therapies and treatments and prioritize her health as a whole.
A word from Christine’s eldest daughter, my big sis!