I have a second chance at life, and that’s pretty amazing.

I AM MORE THAN CANCER

Yes, I've been through a lot, but I don't let that define me. My journey may have been rough, but it's mine, and that's what makes me, me.

Chest pain, short of breath, I can feel my heart throbbing. The doctor at the hospital said mono was the problem.

Sent me home to go to a doctor I couldn’t get an appointment with, so I settled for the reason the ER doctor had to give.

Life wasn’t easy as I had so much fatigue. I barely could function; I could hardly breathe.

Until the day came when I could take it no more, so I went back to the Emergency Room and ended up passing out on the floor.

My heart was overworking itself; my body was straining for blood flow.. Low oxygen, high pulse, I was scared I wouldn’t be here tomorrow.

I was placed in a room and the nurse came in; she took my blood for the lab work to begin.

I talked to the doctor and begged him to help, I was hurting and tired and wanted answers about my health.

About an hour later the doctor comes back, pulls up a chair and everything went black.

I knew it was bad. I could see it in his face; I can’t even explain how much my mind started to race.

He grabbed my hand and looked me dead in the eye, and said: “you need a blood transfusion and a consultation with oncology just to verify.”

My heart stopped I think, I started crying because I knew… if you need an oncologist, cancer has got you.

I was by myself with the worst news ever; I started to panic and couldn’t calm down whatsoever.

The nurses were wonderful and stayed by my side, trying to calm me. They were so kind.

I had no phone service, but the Wi-Fi worked. So I messaged my sister on her social network.

I wanted my mommy. I was scared and alone, and the thought of having cancer made me fear the unknown.

So they said I had to stay overnight in the hospital, I was transferred to a room, but was in shock by the impossible.

How do I explain this to my child’s father? I was nervous to tell him so I called his Mother.

Emotions ran high as we both cried on the phone. How do I explain to them I’m not coming home?

She told me not to worry that she would break the news; I didn’t think I could tell him, I was not very enthused.

Why me? I asked God, what the hell for? 7 brain surgeries I’ve had and now you’re giving me more.

So many thoughts ran through my mind, will I die and leave my baby behind?

I couldn’t sleep that night; I was waiting for my mom. It took a few hours, but I finally started to calm.

In the morning, the doctor came in. Again, I was alone and scared for him to begin.

“You have leukemia,” he said, and I lost it right there. He wasn’t very companionate, and I was really scared.

I told him no more tests until I talk to my mother. They wanted to start chemo right away, but I felt smothered.

Jesse brought up Isaac, so I could see him before I was transferred, and the feelings I was experiencing made the visit very blurred.

I remember holding my son so tight, kissing his little face, and promising I’ll fight my best. It was the saddest embrace.

Then in walks mom, and all hell breaks loose. She wanted me transferred because only the best will do.

So I was brought to another hospital to doctors that we knew, and once they ran the tests, I got the bad news.

It definitely is cancer, leukemia at that, so calls were made and transfer was scheduled. I was headed to fight back.

On the way to Robert Wood, my sister rode in the ambulance with me. We laughed and sang and cried and prayed that God would always surround me.

Terrified was how I felt. I was scared out of my mind; I didn’t know what to think or have any thought in mind.

I was brought up to a room on the “cancer patient” floor, and the first thing I saw was a “no kids” sign on my door.

I was in fight or flight mode, pretty much the whole family was. What the hell is happening to me? I had to stop and pause.

I met with this new doctor for the first time in my room. At the moment I didn’t know what to think, I only could assume.

This is now my life, I’m a cancer patient now, what will happen to me? I can only ask aloud.

I can’t even tell you how much my family cried. Tears of hurt and sorrow filled up everybody’s eyes.

The team of doctors came in to explain to us the process. Overwhelmed and terrified were all I could express.

I’ll never forget the doctor’s words “we’ll start chemo in the morning.” My worst nightmare is coming true; I wish I had a warning.

I wish I knew it would be okay and that I would make it through, but you can’t say that because you don’t know what the cancer will do.

The day came to start the chemo, it’s getting real now. I had so many questions but couldn’t get them out.

I started my chemo with victory in mind; I planned on staying positive and leaving cancer behind.

I didn’t know what I was in for, but I had a clue. My family’s history with cancer was nothing new.

I prepared myself mentally for losing all my hair. What I wasn’t ready for was all the pain that cancer would unveil.

Leukemia is what I have, and it’s a cancer of your blood. The kind I have is rare for my age, and the outlook didn’t look good.

The first day of treatment went better than I hoped. I was feeling pretty good and that gave me some hope.

On the fourth day of my chemo, I had an unexpected turn of events. Surgery to get my appendix out before it burst.. Just made sense.

They called in a few surgeons who didn’t want to touch me, but with the risk of a ruptured appendix, they decided to go ahead with the surgery.

It was beyond nerve-racking for everyone involved. I was in the middle of treatment, and this problem needed to be solved.

I got a bag of platelets just before I headed down and another during surgery and after it as well.

I’ll never forget what the surgeon said to me, “you must have a guardian angel watching over you young lady.”

I didn’t realize it then how big of a deal the surgery was. I kind of tried to block it out. My fear of dying was big enough.

The next day when all the doctors did rounds, I was the most popular patient in town.

It’s not every day you do surgery on a cancer patient, during chemo, while their counts are low, but my body was impatient.

I started recovering from my first chemo induction. It definitely was not easy, and my body was under construction.

Everything hurt from my hair to my toes; it felt like I got hit by several buses, which blows.

The pain of my hair falling was so bad, so I made my mom shave it for relief. She was really sad.

The pain in my bones felt like I was being stomped on by an elephant. I remember crying in bed and saying the hell with it.

It was hard to move around especially to the bathroom, to bathe and to eat and to sit was filled with gloom.

But I smiled through the pain, and I felt I was stronger. I wanted to prove that “it” had me no longer.

33 days I spent in that bed when I look back now I can still feel the dread.

Not knowing what your counts are or if they’ll be going up, and getting shots to boost my immune system totally sucked.

But I put up a fight like I never before have. I was ready to win and never look back.

On day 21, I had a bone marrow biopsy, to see if the leukemia was still inside me.

The results came back good, and we all were elated. The cancer was gone, and I celebrated.

I went home to my baby and gave him a hug. “Mommy did it,” I said to my little cuddle bug.

What I didn’t expect were the appointments I had. Every other day my blood work was sent to the lab.

Sometimes I needed platelets and other times blood. No matter what I needed, it felt like I was being dragged in the mud.

My veins were so tiny and rolled and would blow; at that time, I didn’t have a PICC line you know.

I was stuck every day I went to the lab. It was not very fun, lots of tears I did have.

So once my counts began to rise, the doctor scheduled the consolidation. A week of chemo to prevent a relapse was the plan of attack for the entire duration.

I was scheduled for 4 more rounds of chemo, but this time less harsh. The side effects I’d love to veto.

I’m not of fan of pain or having no taste buds at all. I hated hair loss and being really bald.

Feeling weak, taking medicine, having no energy at all, I felt kind of useless while others were having a ball.

But I pushed through it all. Every chemo treatment done, and on February 14th, I was in remission. I won!

I was exhilarated. For once, I was filled with such joy. I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my little boy!

It took about two months to finally recover, but I was happy that I was cancer free for the summer.

Every day I would pray, and I wanted to share. So I made a blog page for my story to air.

It’s called Cancer is an Asshole because that’s what it was to me. I hated every aspect of cancer, but once it was over I felt free.

I had 6 months to myself to be “normal” again. Until September 3rd, when my tooth pain started to begin.

It started to swell and my face was so big. It was painful to talk or even take a drink.

So I went to the ER, where I was first diagnosed. I figured it was just a toothache, so I’d be there a few hours at most.

They did all the testing that hospitals do, but the doctor had his head down when he came back to my room.

“You have an abscess in your tooth and it’s pretty bad. We also found a blast cell in the blood work you just had.”

The news made cry; my PTSD kicked right in. I can’t have cancer again, what if I don’t win?

“We think you’re relapsing. I need to keep you here, so you have to stay overnight to make sure your labs are clear”.

My oncologist was called and so was a dentist. I could barely focus on the words of his sentence.

They wanted the tooth fixed but were worried about cancer, and he said if I relapsed the tooth would be a disaster.

They wanted to pull it, and I said NO, so I went to a better dentist and one that I know.

Meanwhile, the oncologist set up for a biopsy; he needed to make sure the leukemia wasn’t inside me.

While waiting for results, I had dental work done. Finally relief, but now round two has begun.

A few days later, the doctor would call. September 11th I remember it all.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, “you really did relapse, the leukemia is back” and I collapsed.

I started to cry and hyperventilate, so much was running through my mind. I had no time to situate.

The doctor told Jesse what the plan was. I was too devastated to talk; I just sat there in a pause.

Are you kidding me, God? One time wasn’t enough. I have to suffer again; I don’t think I’m that tough.

I don’t want to leave my son ever again, but the outcome was bleak… this can’t be the end.

So we decided on a date the 17th I’d start chemo, but this time it’s stronger and so was my ego.

How do you explain to your 4-year-old son, you have to leave him again but it’s for the best in the long run?

I just held him tight and apologized over and over. I’m sorry I have to leave you, but I will not crossover.

“We are going to be strong and mommy will fight, we got this baby boy,” I said with delight.

In the back of my mind, I knew all the odds, and relapsing with leukemia is not very good.

So the 17th approaches and my bags are all packed. I said my goodbyes and headed on back.

My mom drove me up there, we cried the whole ride, and we talked about my will and what would happen if I died.

It was the worst conversation I never want to have it again, but it needed to be done, so they know what I intend.

I got to the hospital and up to the floor; I saw my room and almost lost it at the door.

I’ve already been through this, so I know that it sucks. I felt pretty depressed and down on my luck.

I put away my things and got ready for war. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door.

My team of doctors came in and told me the plan. I’d start chemo in the morning, and then the tears began.

I have to do this all over; I didn’t know if I could. I just wanted to be normal like any person would.

The next day came, and the chemo was started. I felt kind of defeated that I had to restart this.

The hardest part of these hospital visits is having to leave my son; it just breaks my heart having to hear him beg for me to come home.

I put on my game face and strapped on in. I put on my battle mindset because I was going to win.

30 days I was in that hard hospital bed, I couldn’t wait to leave and head back to my homestead.

Although the chemo is over, guess what I had to go through, blood work every other day and possible transfusion too.

At a doctor’s appointment about a week later, we were told I needed a transplant. They were going to test my family, but came back and said we can’t.

So they looked into the registry to see what they could find. Meanwhile, my mom’s job hosted a swab party for donors; it was the nicest gesture and gave me piece of mind.

I can’t remember the date that we got the amazing news, but a donor was found that matched me perfectly. I got a stem cell transplant really soon.

A million things ran through my mind, and of course, I did some research. The hospital even provided a class for patients to go to first.

On November 21st, I was admitted for my transplant. I was a nervous wreck to say the least and wondering if I should recant.

Thanksgiving was a great day for me, as Jesse brought up Isaac. My sister came up, and my dad was there too. I felt blessed and so excited.  

I started chemo the following day, and it went pretty well. The only side effect was nausea, which made me feel really ill.

The chemo I was getting was intense and very strong. It was rough, to say the least; sometimes I cried all night long.

The pain in your body and bones really sucks, but the diarrhea that felt like bleach and fire was pain enough.

The chemo was horrible this go around. I didn’t move much just sat in the bed and frowned.

I had some very intense days, one of which the doctor was concerned. He told my dad a few weeks later “I didn’t know if she was going to make it, Sir.”

I disliked all my nurses. I think mostly because I was depressed. I just hated they never knocked on my door and blatantly walked right in.

Every four hours my blood pressure was taken even in my sleep. I punched a few techs by accident, but that’s what happens when you scare me.

November 28th the day my life changed forever. I received my donors’ cells and felt like I was going to get better.

Things were very slow starting, I could barely even walk. My legs were weak, I had fatigue, I’d sit in bed most days and sulked.

They had me on so much medication, I had a pole with four or five pumps. I also took some orally; my stomach was in a funk.

I had the worst diarrhea from all of the meds. I was truly miserable lying in that hospital bed.

I had a reaction to the last medication that they had me take. My legs felt like they had glass shards running up and down my leg.

It was burning, and I was in agony. It was the worst pain of my life. I cried to God to get me through. I didn’t want to go to the afterlife.

As the days pass on, I could feel I was getting stronger. I was able to walk the hallway without my walker any longer.

I started to shower by myself even though it was very hard. It took all of my energy, but I made it this far.

I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and believe me, what got me through was always staying humble.

No matter what I was going through, I always put on a smile. I tried to be as positive as I could even without being mobile.

My body healed pretty fast; I was sent home a week early. I was so excited for the great news, I couldn’t wait to see my family.

Man was I weak and couldn’t care for myself. I needed 24-hour care, to bathe and eat and walk and sleep, my gate was also impaired.

I went home with a walker, which I needed for a while, but after a few weeks of that, I was getting versatile.

I can see improvement daily, however, it is slow. Although recovery is a rollercoaster, I’d love to just get up and go.

I’m on my way back from going through hell. The devil couldn’t stop me, and I’m not going to dwell.

I have a second chance at life, and that’s pretty amazing. I thank my marrow donor for every single blessing.

Yes, I’ve been through a lot, but I don’t let that define me. My journey may have been rough, but it’s mine, and that’s what makes me, me.

ABOUT Amanda

Bio

  • NJ
  • Diagnosis

    • Leukemia

    Primary Treatment

    • Chemotherapy
    • Surgery

    Primary Cancer Center

    • Other

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