The 6 Letter Word that Kills

DID YOU KNOW… There are more than 100 types of cancer. On average, 555 Canadians will be diagnosed with Cancer every day.

In addition to that, 2 out of 5 Canadians are expected to develop cancer during their lifetime. [Canada’s current population is 36,626,083 those statistic estimate that 14,650,433 of Canada’s civilians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.]

I have not only been diagnosed with cancer once in my lifetime, but twice. I was first diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma a malignant brain tumour. The second diagnosis was osteosarcoma in simpler words- bone cancer [& yes, this is the cancer Terry Fox passed away from.]

Osteosarcoma is most commonly found in fast growing areas of the bone (knees, elbows, etc.) Some Osteosarcoma patients undergo surgery, while others must undergo both surgery and vigorous chemotherapy treatments. The choice of treatment is dependent on the severity, as well as the location, of the cancer.

My diagnoses of osteosarcoma is linked to both the radiation I received as a child AND the mutation in my gene (P53.) My left jaw lit up like a christmas when I had a bone scan done. The tumour was measured in cm (this generally means the tumour is of a large size.)

The board of oncologists at Sick Kids discussed my specific case and decided I should under go surgery before starting chemotherapy. They wanted the tumour to be removed before it caused further damage (specifically nerve damage.)

The surgery whom was done by Doctor Gilbert, the head and neck specialist at the Toronto General Hospital, planned on:

  • Removing the jaw joint (leads to permanent complications chewing & numbness)
  • Removing a small lower part of the skull (this was to be done by a neurosurgeon)
  • Reconstruction of the left mandible (jaw)
  • Free tissue transplant from the left leg (used to reconstruct the left mandible/jaw)

The morning of surgery was long; it consisted mostly of waiting around. Once I changed into my dressing gown the surgery was quick to follow. The surgeon, as well as his fellow, brought me into a massive operating room (exactly like the ones in movies.) The few minutes between being brought in by the doctors and being put to sleep, seemed to last forever. I’ve been put to sleep sooooooo many times that it doesn’t scare me anymore.

If you close your eyes and start counting….1…2….you’re asleep!

Xo

Cancer

Everyones past helped shape who they are today so it’s inevitable that cancer helped shaped me.                                                                                                                                                            

I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time at the age of 2; it was a brain tumour situated  behind my left eye. I underwent treatment for months, with little results. My family was devastated by the idea of losing a loved one at such a young age. My mom insisted they keep treating me until my little fragile body couldn’t take anymore. After 12 weeks of radiation, and week long chemo treatments my tumour began to shrink. Eventually my oncologist was able to shrink the tumour, to ruffly the size of a loony, as well as eliminate the cancer cells. Years of fighting finally payed off- It created a miracle… ME

In addition to having underwent a childhood cancer, I was born with the P53 gene. This gene is essentially an error in my DNA that creates masses of cancer. Because of this gene the odds of me having cancer again were high- much much higher than the average person. In all honesty though, I never worried about it. I always told myself it’s pointless to worry about something that was out of my control. Weather I worried about cancer or not, if my biology insisted I get it- there was nothing I could do to change that.

January 6th 2017, shortly after my 18th birthday, the inevitable happened- I was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. I had been sleeping more and frequent headaches during the night began to affect the quality of my sleep. Th0se around me believed it was the lack of routine in my busy university lifestyle but something inside of me knew there was an underlying issue. I procrastinated going to the doctor during the holidays until I realized that my health was in my own hands. No one was going to advocate for me anymore; if I wanted an answer it was my responsibility to ask the questions.

After reaching out to my new oncologist nurse a few times, I realized she didn’t believe my symptoms were associated to anything major. She repeatedly encouraged me to go see my family doctor; however, something about her reaction was too calming. I decided to contact my old oncologist nurse whom assumed another role at the hospital. I explained my symptoms and that my current nurse was disregarding the importance of me seeing my oncologist. She contacted my current oncologist nurse and explained to her the importance of me being seen by my doctor. [I later found out, by my oncologist, that I only received an appointment because I spoke with my old nurse.]

The weeks to follow are a little bit of a blur. Everyone was in shock that this healthy young girl could possibly have such an awful disease growing inside of her AGAIN. By the end of January I underwent a massive surgery to remove the tumour, as well as reconstruct the left mandible with bone and tissue taken from my leg. The surgery was roughly 12 hours. The recovery time was estimated at 12-13 days but I was out in 6. I slowly began to recover.

XO

University… it’ll be great they say

University… It’ll be great they say…

I bet you have this whole ideas that you’re going to be your healthiest self & be the most scholarly version of yourself EVER

HAHAH that’s funny! Two months in you’ll be going to bed at 2am and regretting it when u need to make a 8am class. You’ll also debate going to at least 2 of your classes a week, not because you don’t care but, because it almost seems too easy. (If you can do the homework while you should be in class- it puts you ahead no?? GOOD ONE I promise you it’s worth attending your classes.)

Except if u decide to take a film studies class & hate every minute of it because you have the attention span of a 5 year old and can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time.

You’ll also realize the salad bar that has basic lettuce & tomatoes gets old real fast. You end up eating gross over cooked pasta & wishing you appreciated the home cooked food sooner but u end up going back to the shitty salad bar because it’s better than over cooked pasta :/

At times it also feels like you’re attending summer camp but u never get to leave… scary right?

Minus the stuff listed above university is pretty awesome..

Adulthood doesn’t seem so far away after all

Xo

Life isn’t fair

Life isn’t easy nor is it fair but my god is it worth fighting for. I wake up every morning thinking to myself is it ever nice to be alive. To smell the outdoors & to feel my feet touch the ground. My journey has yet to really begin as I embark into the next step towards a cancer free body, it’s inevitable I get a little emotional. (Let me remind you it’s okay to feel things- it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be nervous, it’s okay to be angry- EMOTIONS ARE MEANT TO BE FELT) People that tell you otherwise choose to neglect them.

I just want you to know that life sucks & rocks all at the same time,

I CAN’T STRESS IT ENOUGH; life is worth fighting for XO