Kyesia's Fight Against Cancer
Hello! My name is Kyesia Shavers, I'm 26 years old and I am a High school English teacher. It goes without saying that it is, in the very least, very surreal that I am even writing this.
About 3 weeks before my 26th birthday, on September 14, 2016, I was diagnosed with Classic Hodgkins Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system). The lymphatic system helps to fight infection (immune system) and the cancer essentially impedes my body's ability to do so.
Going into Year 26, the LAST thing I expected was incessant Doctor visits, blood draw after blood draw after blood draw and finally, chemotherapy. Going into my 4th year teaching and for the first time having all honors classes, I really wanted to focus on being a GREAT teacher. I had plans on purchasing my first home, but things change.
My outlook on this whole ordeal has been more-so positive. I realized very early on that my current condition and the impending doom that are the effects of chemo are fleeting. And in 6 months, after [hopefully] my last round of chemo, I can get back to the goals that I had. I can go back to being a healthy, happy 26 year old.
So here I am asking for your help. With the cancer itself attacking my immune system and chemotherapy naturally compromising my immune system, my Doctor made it clear that daily interactions with 14, 15 and 16 year olds are simply out of the question. Unfortunately, the public school system doesn't offer paid medical leave and my cancer isn't "aggressive" enough for disability.
Every donation, no matter how little, would help to cover my medical expenses (IVF alone was 7 grand out of pocket), life insurance payments, and other basic living expenses.
When this is all said and done, I just want to be where I was mentally, physically and financially before all this began. Anything helps...
September 22, 2016
The road to having my first chemo was a slightly long, slightly traumatic experience.
My oncologist, Dr. Ruiz, from the moment I met him, was trying to get this chemo party started IMMEDIATELY. But, I had decided to go ahead and do my IVF treatments first JUST IN CASE chemo ruined my egg supply. The IVF process was pretty successful. On average, they are able to harvest about 8-10 eggs, but my ovaries weren't playing. She produced 25 eggs. So, come what may, I will be somebody's mama.
Unfortunately, the IVF process took about 2 weeks and my body could not handle that. By this point, my face was swelling, my back was hurting allllll day, and the phlegm in my Throat made it very difficult for me to breathe and swallow with ease. I had chemo coming that following Friday (the 21st), so I was trying to hang on until then, but my body governs my life these days...
On October 16th, I nearly choked to death (not even joking) on Mucinex and decided that yep, I should definitely go to the hospital. Unfortunately or fortunately, what I thought was going to be a day spent at the ER turned into a week hospital stay.
They gave me steroids that made the hump on my shoulder and lymph nodes "disappear." My cold and its phlegm went away too. I also had fluid around my lungs, so after draining 3 cups of fluid my swollen face and it's double chin went down. So, aesthetically I was back to normal.
My oncologist suggested because of those reasons (wanting to monitor me and such), they were going to admit me.
I was in the ICU for 3 days, a regular floor for like 4 hours and then finally they moved me to the Cancer floor.
So, chemo. I think on Sunday they decided to, at the same time that they drained my lung area, go ahead and put in my port. My port is like a little button, attached to a tube, that is then directed to a vein in my upper chest. This makes accessing a vein a lot easier and administering the chemo easy as well. I was nervous because my port still was pretty sore and then sticking a needle in it made me nervous.
They started around 6pm, administers nausea medication and Benadryl before the chemo drugs. The process itself is rather simple. They just change the bags like they do IV. The only thing that sucks is that you are literally just waiting for a bad feeling to hit your body.
The first thing I felt was like a drunkenness (and not in a good way). It's like that queasy, I'm about to throw up feeling. I felt it from my head to my stomach. It was at that point that I decided to let Benadryl work it's magic and I went to sleep.
For the next couple of days, I just felt that feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's like you have something in you that your body does not agree with, but you can't get it out. It wasn't nausea because I had no urge to vomit. The feeling was just there. I also felt weak upon moving. Taking a shower was exhausting. Cooking was not really an option and neither was driving. On like Day 3, post chemo. I began to feel dizzy, but that feeling subsided within a few hours. Within a couple days, all chemo effects slowly dissipated and I was excited to feel normal-- drive, take a shower etc.
My oncologist did mention, however, that the more chemo I receive the worst it's going to be. Needless to say, I am not looking forward to that.
Next chemo: November 4, 2016.
Well, it all started in August. One day, I noticed that the veins in my neck were bulging out on both sides. At first, I dismissed it because you just assume that things are going to go away. Then, I noticed that there was a bulge in the front of my neck. I, too, shrugged that off and attributed the bulge to fat due to weight gain.
About a week after that, I noticed I had grown a hump on my right neck/shoulder. It was at this point that I began to really evaluate my situation. It was at this point, too, that I noticed that my cold was still lingering after about 2 weeks.
So, I go to my MD. She can't automatically say what's going on with me, but she begins to set me up with appointments for tests to figure it out. I have all these different tests set up, but the most important test was the biopsy.
A biopsy is a somewhat minor surgical procedure where they remove tissue from an area and test it for cancer.
Now, during this process WebMd and the internet were my bestfriends. I had, at this point, seen that Lymphoma was one of the potential diagnosis for enlarged lymph nodes. I am a "realist," or "worst case scenario" type person, so I already wanted to slightly prepare myself for the worst.
The results came back less than a week later and my MD calls me and asks can I come to her office when I get off work. That already was a bad sign to me because Dr's don't normally tell you to come as soon as you get off work. I expected, perhaps, that an appointment would be set up, but whatever. I go to her office, she sits me down and she tells me that I have Classic Hodgkins Lymphoma. Am I distraught? No. Am I scared? No. I had already researched Lymphoma and read that it had an 85% survival rate. So, as long as you not telling me I'm about to die at 26, I guess I can handle it. My Dr continued to reassure me that, "YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE." And I guess I was okay with that. As long as I'm not going to die...
And that was how I found out I had cancer...