I AM A SURVIVOR
Updated: Jun 9, 2021
In 2000, during my first week of grad school, I got the phone call no one ever wants to be on the receiving end of. “Drea, you have sarcoma.” Catching me off guard, I had no clue what sarcoma was, only that it was being used to describe the mystery lump that had been removed from my hand the week prior. Turns out, sarcoma is an aggressive and rare type of cancer and it had invaded my body.
After surgery to remove the lump, 5 weeks of radiation, resection of all the soft tissue between my fingers, and a radial forearm flap graft, I hoped I was at the end of cancer being part of my life.
Just after a year of being in remission, I woke up with a sore armpit. Scans revealed tumors there are as well as in my lungs. It’s funny how life can take a drastic turn in a split second. I was now facing surgery to remove the tumor from my armpit (axilla), 5 cycles of chemo, and a chest surgery that fall to tackle the tumors that had set up shop in my lungs.
Obviously, no one wants chemo, but, I knew I had to do it. Even this option had its limits - the doctors told me that at best, there was a 30% chance it would "work" and by work they meant stop growth, not shrink the tumor or make it disappear.
That was a difficult summer that tested my resolve as a human. There were multiple trials and tribulations, which I will cover in the defining moment’s posts, but what I want you to know is that I did it. The tumors in my chest disappeared. Completely. My thoracic surgery was miraculously canceled.
I was told cancer would be making a comeback within three years. But I had learned what my mind was capable of and I had no intention of sitting waiting for the nightmare to continue. Again, I proved the doctors wrong. It never came back. It has been 19 years and I remain healthy and cancer-free.
Miracles do happen.