Cancer has changed my life because I can help other people now by listening to them and what they’re going through, because I’ve been there myself.
It all started when I found a lump in my throat by my lymphnodes - I could actually see it. I got a doctors appointment with my ENT and she pretty much knew right away that it was lymphoma but they did a biopsy to verify it. It was. I then went through the chemo and radiation and had a feeding tube because the radiation was so bad on my throat that I couldn’t swallow.
My scans were clean for about five months and then the cancer came back - and a rare (but benign) brain tumor was discovered. The doctors then did surgery. They had to cut my face in half to operate, took part of my tongue, and put a flap in from a skin graft on my wrist in my mouth. They also removed all of the lymph nodes from the left side of my neck. I have a plate in the front of my face with wires and staples holding it together.
Then I had treatment for the brain tumor. I did proton radiation last year and am now on chemo for the brain tumor - which thankfully, is working. The treatment for the brain tumor is happening while they’re trying to rebuild my jaw (the amount of radiation that I had made my jaw bones brittle). When they operated on my face and put it back together, my face became a little bit smaller in my jaw area so I lost teeth. Over the last 15 months I’ve had facial surgery on my jaw and teeth that’s still ongoing.
The one thing to that I really emphasize is the importance of connecting with others by listening and understanding. I can help other people now by listening to them and what they’re doing through, because I’ve been there myself.
Cancer taught me that I MATTER! I have become intentional about how I live. I have made my lifestyle my medicine.