A story that needs no introduction. Thank you for your bravery and your life lessons Shannon.
My Name is Shannon. I am a daughter, sister, wife, and mother. I am outgoing, loving, loud, and stubborn.
I am all of these things but I am also a Survivor.
When I was 23 years old, I met the man who would be my partner in life and my soul mate, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Things could not be any better!
Then, during my annual women exam, my doctor was concerned with the pain I had been experiencing, and ordered a CT scan and ultrasound. That was when they found the tumor. While scared, I knew that my mom had had some cysts and things so I assumed I had them too. A few days after having the growth biopsied, the doctor called me with the news.
- “I’m sorry Shannon….but it’s cancer…”
Wait WHAT?! No.. this wasn’t right! I just found the love of my life; my life was on the right track for once! Since the cancer had already progressed pretty significantly, I really didn’t have too many options.
I had surgery to remove the tumor, but they had to remove a large portion of one of my ovaries and fallopian tubes. I then proceeded to have radiation therapy because in my young mind nothing would be worse than to lose my hair. I also chose not to have a full hysterectomy. At the time it seemed like a rather stupid choice, however later it would prove to be the best thing I could have done. The next 8 weeks really went by like a blur: a whirlwind of cancer treatments, doctors’ appointments, working a full time retail job and at the same time trying to maintain the relationships I had built.
Fast forward to 2012
I had been happily married for 8 years, and after 3 years of infertility issues and being told I would never carry a child, we were blessed with a beautiful little boy who had just turned 2. I had renewed my faith and trust in the Lord and felt life could not be any better!
I had done it! I had beat cancer, defied the odds and had a baby, I had a wonderful new career and my marriage was truly a happily ever after with my prince charming.
In August of 2012, I went for my women exam like I do every year and told my doctor I had some tenderness, as well as other symptoms. Concerned, my doctor ordered a full range of tests just to be safe. I went home that day sort of on pins and needles, however trusting in God to see me through.
The next week we took our son for his 2 year checkup, and that’s when our world started to change. After talking to our son’s doctor, he confirmed our fears for our little man: that his delays were not just that he was a late bloomer, but that he might be autistic.
For a while I felt so angry. How could God do this to us? Was he punishing me for all the bad things I had done? Then, I realized that he had done nothing to us, he only gave me my heart’s desire to be a mother in the form of a sweet little boy whose brain worked a little different than everyone else’s. It was this special little boy who would give me strength in the darkest hours to come.
The next day my test results returned. Again, I received the worst phone call a person can get from their doctor.
- “I am so sorry Shannon, but the cancer is back…”
I was stunned and dazed. WHY? I did not spend a lot of time trying to figure it all out or process, it was just too much. I just gave it all to God and hit the ground running. I made an appointment with an oncologist for later that same week. Since there was no tumor this time and only cells, we were able to just do Radiation treatment for 6 weeks. While exhausted I was still able to work. I successfully completed my 6 weeks and things were looking good. I even took a trip to Jamaica to celebrate!
Two weeks before Christmas 2013, I went in for a re-check to make sure I was officially in remission. However I did not get the good news I was hoping for. The cancer had returned yet again and this time I would not avoid chemotherapy. The other difference was that this time I was stronger in so many ways. I also had more reasons to fight this time. I was scheduled for my first round of chemo on December 16, and on December 15th I shaved my head!
I was taking control of my cancer this time around. While this fight was much harder, I felt that I had to make it for my little boy and husband. After 8 weeks of chemo I went in for my evaluation. I waited with baited breath for 3 days for the results and when I got the all clear I was relieved. I tried not to get too excited since last time I had another occurrence 3 months later.
But I made it! In January I received my official one year remission certificate. I have been cancer free for one year and what we like to call dancing with NED (No Evidence of Disease).
My journey to remission has taught me so many things about myself.
I am much stronger than I ever thought I could be. I have also learned to appreciate every moment in life, to embrace the good and the bad, because without the bad we cannot really appreciate the good in life, and without the good we lose faith. My wish is for you all to find he good everywhere in life and embrace it, for tomorrow is never promised.