My story began in 1997 with many changes occurring in my life at this time. I was a single mom, just graduated from high school the year before, and I was looking as to what my future was to hold. Being a young woman and a single mom already stacked the odds against me. Then on February 15, 1997, I lost the first man who ever loved me unconditionally to a battle with cancer – my Daddy. The strongest man I knew was gone and at that time I did not know I was pregnant with my second child or what events that were about to unfold. After he passed I made the crazy comment of I am the “Murphy’s Law” kid of the family. If any of his children ever had cancer it would be me. As anything that could be genetic related as a predisposition I ended up with that gene. I was the kid who inherited the heart issues- mitral valve prolapse. At 14 while having issues with my kidneys (inherited issue from my grandmother) we found out that I had spinal bifida (inherited from my grandfather). Now do you see the craziness as to why I made that statement.
A couple of weeks after that we discovered that I was pregnant. Everything seemed to be just fine . I was developing great with no problems what so ever, until March. Earlier that week I went for my normal check up for my second trimester. My baby girl was developing great, heart beat was strong, ten finger, ten toes , the whole nine yards. Then just days later I began to have spotting. I immediately called my OB/GYN who put me on bed rest, with lots of fluids etc, and called it the wait and see. That was on Saturday morning.By Monday there was no change. When they did an ultrasound my little girl was dead in my womb. I was devastated. Immediately I was taken to have a delivery and a D&C done. After my doctor told me she did not know what went wrong. Isabella Grace was perfect, no defects, no problems with the placenta or attachment. She then proceeded to say, ”God knows more than us all and this was just not meant to be – we may never understand why but she is with your Daddy.”At that moment I was angry and hurt, but at the same time that was the most comforting statement I could have.
About a week later while I was still at home on bed rest my doctor called (not her nurse but her). See she has been my doctor since age 13 and I was one of her first patients when she opened her practice. I was so terrified having seen a female doctor at that time and she made me feel so much better with her sweet and gentle disposition. She proceeded to tell me that she hated to tell me this with all that was going on in my life with losing my dad and Grace but my PAP results had come back and I had a class IV PAP smear. At first I was filled with anger not realizing what that meant. She then told me that it meant that I had cancer and needed to be seen ASAP for a biopsy and to see what the plan would be.
Two days later I went in for a STAT biopsy and exam. The results were sent for STAT processing by my doctor and 48 hours later we had my results. It was positive for adneocarcimona of my cervix. My biopsy of all other areas other than the cervical opening were negative and they had caught it in the first stage. In this here lies the Murphy’s Law just as I had predicted. Here also sat fear, I was a mom of a beautiful little boy who changed my life . How could this happen . I could not bear the thought of leaving him. I was truly blessed that they had caught it in early stages and I went through multiple treatments to in essence peel my cervix with a chemotherapy agent as well as oral medication. My doctor said that this had been why I had lost Grace. My body knew that my cervix could not hold up and there was a problem it saw her as the threat and shutoff to her. She then said she was my “Amazing Grace” for if I had not had her and had the PAP when I did and at the normal time at the end of the year I would probably not been so lucky. She saved my life – God gave her to me to save me. I have been cancer free since 1997 – by the Grace of God. I was told my chances of having more children would be slim and carrying to term would be hard if I did get pregnant. In 2002, I was blessed again with a baby boy. It was not an easy pregnancy I went into preterm labor because of my cervix but he came only two and a half weeks early and was a bouncing 22 and a half in, 9 lb, 11 oz boy.
Then my next fight began after having him I was having increased fatigue, weight changes, and issues with tremors and visual disturbances. My primary care doctor was worried that the worse could have happened and I had a brain tumor (considering my family and personal history). He sent me then for a MRI of my brain where they found several lesions and one large lesion on the basal ganglion of my brain. The neurosurgeon who was friends with my PCP told him I didn’t have a brain tumor but this was early multiple sclerosis, and I needed to see a neurologist now. I then went to the neurologist that treated me for my migraine headaches. This doctor in turn said, well it’s 99% that this is MS but we need more time to know for sure before we can really do anything. When I asked when do I need to come back, what is “worse,” his answer was when you can’t walk. His answer was that migraines can cause a lot of this in women and until you really become debilitated there is not much to be done. Being in shock and naive I just took this and went on.
Several years later I began to fall more, have more issues with pain and sensation, and had no sensation in my feet. I talked with my PCP and he then referred me to a different neurologist. There I had full exam, much more than my previous neurologist had preformed. I had more scans of my brain and spine as well as a battery of blood work testing me for anything and everything on the planet that could be wrong. The end result was relapsing progressive multiple sclerosis. I was married to my first husband at that time who was very not supportive. He believed that it was all false because anyone he knew was in a wheelchair that had MS so they were just giving a diagnosis and didn’t know what they were talking about. At that time she wanted to put me on several drugs to help slow the drug but because of side effects and the cost of the medication my husband would not share his income info to get copay assistance, I just kept pushing through. Eventually I left a marriage of verbal and abuse with him – just another way that I am a survivor. I had endured this for nine years too long.
Since then God has blessed me with a most wonderful man, my husband Joshua. He stands by my side through it all. He himself is medically retired from the US Army, injured in Iraq in a IED explosion and has traumatic brain injury as well as other physical injuries. We understand each other and push each other forward. So when I began to have more problems physically and cognitively he was by my side as I made the visit to the MS Center of Atlanta. He pushed me to get my treatments, to do exercises to help my pain and spasms, and has been by my side for every appointment. I am now on Rebif injections three times a week. Not the most fun but it will help with my relapses. There is no cure for this disease that tries to take parts of me every day. Slowing down is a bitter pill for me to swallow. But everyday I fight like there is no tomorrow. I give all I have in everything I do. Looking at me, unless you know me, you could not tell I am fighting. I smile,laugh, give freely of myself to help others, I work everyday, and give my all to my work. I am a mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I am a survivor and a fighter. I may have had cancer but it did not have me. I have MS but it does not have me. Everyday I “fight like a girl!!!”
To those of you who are reading my story – do not give up. Fight with all you have got. Remember God is with you in any storm. He never sends you where first he will not go first. When you feel like giving up look up and ask him, God what is your lesson for me or that person you are using me to reach. Have faith, have peace, show love, give strength to others even in your weakness. You never know whose life you may touch by sharing your fight. You life is your testimony. I have no problem with sharing my story, people who meet me are amazed when they hear it. It gives many a peace for their storms and fight for their battles. Each day is a blessing to me , each day is a blessing to you. Treasure it, use it, show others how to “FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!!!”
Thank you for listening to my story. I hope in some way I have given someone light in a dark room today.
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.