Don't Give Up, this is your life, fight for it!!!
March 2012 was a tough go. I went from feeling normal and in shape, to constantly feeling achy, my skin hurt, exhausted all the time and always cold! I didn’t really know what was going on, but I could fall asleep absolutely anywhere.
I started going to the chiropractor and massage therapist to elevate some of the pain I was feeling in my back. After some treatments we realized I needed to start coming 3 times a week. With each treatment I would be feeling good for a day then back to hardly being able to stand up straight and walk.
My chiropractor then took notice to my bruising on my legs. He asked me how long they had been there and I told him I wasn’t really sure. He stated that I needed to get bloodwork done and he will not follow through with another treatment until I do so. He was leaning towards it being rheumatoid arthritis.
So I went for blood work on a Friday, in Davidson. My arm became so blue and purple from my elbow all the way to my wrist.
I went into work the next week and googled all of my symptoms, looking at my co worker saying “Myrna, I think I have leukemia!”
She quickly put me in my place and told me not think like that.
That Monday, they called me and told me I was needing to come to the oncology ward in RUH in Saskatoon for a bone marrow biopsy that Wednesday.
I must admit, those biopsies are the most painful things I have ever endured.
Once finished my biopsy, my parents took me home and I laid on the couch with a softball size lump that wouldn’t stop bleeding. Then next day (Thursday) when I was able to walk half normal I went decided to go shower. My boyfriend (now husband) was at my house keeping me company. As I was coming around the corner I heard him talking on the phone and all he was saying was “ok...ok...ok....yes Ok I will.” I asked him who it was and what they wanted. He said “it was your mom and you need to go back to the city, right now!”
Being the stubborn Italian woman that I am, I refused and tried to walk away. Landon then told me if I didn’t get in the vehicle willingly, he was going to put me in there himself whether I liked it or not because I wasn’t safe at home.
Without another word, I got in the truck and we drove to Saskatoon, in complete silence. About 40 minutes into the drive I looked at him and said “babe I think I have leukemia.”
Without hesitation he reminded me that we don’t know anything and can’t think like that. Not another word was said.
We arrived back at the RUH and went straight into the emergency. A nurse came up and asked what we were there for. I explained that I just had a biopsy the day before and then received a call that day to come back in and ask for Dr. Brose
His eyes got huge and said “I’ll be right back”
What felt like second later Dr Brose came around the corner and took Landon and Myself into the worlds smallest room. Sat us down and his eyes welled up, “Breanna, you’re sick.”
I explained to him that I knew I was sick and wanted to know how bad it was.
“Well, you have cancer, leukemia. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia”
I asked how long I had to live.
“Had you not come in today, you wouldn’t be alive in 5 days from now!”
“Listen, I don’t have time to be sick, I have a little girl at home that I need to get back to!” I told him
“You sound like a really good mom!”
Landon piped up and said “she’s a wonderful mother!! She needs to go home!”
“Well you will likely be in here for a while, no less than 30 days for sure!”
I start to become extremely emotional, realizing that my daughter, who wasn’t even 5 yet, had no idea what’s going on. She left to her dads so I could have a biopsy and when she comes home, I won’t be there.
I looked at Dr Brose and said “well, get me a bed, get me treatment and get me home!”
Off we went to a bed in emergency until one was available up on the cancer ward.
As I waited, I phoned my mom. I told her what happened and all she said was “I know, I googled your symptoms!” I told her I did the same thing!!!
They were taking my sister to volleyball, they turned around and came to the hospital. As I waited for what felt like 3 days, they found me a bed. 5103 I believe.
By the time I got up there and somewhat settled, it was time for my family and Landon to leave. It was 11:37 pm and For the first time EVER, I prayed.
And I prayed wholeheartedly...gave everything to God and laid it all out on the line. What else did I have to lose?!
It didn’t seem like very long but the nurse came in and asked how I was doing....12:42
I told her I couldn’t sleep and she told me she would get me a “midnight cocktail” to help me rest. I was out!
The next few days was filled with Drs in and out, Elemary and others trying to figure out what to do.
They told me I was going to need a stem cell transplant and would have to head to Seattle for such treatment. However they needed to find a match for my O- blood.
Drs in and out, started me in IV Chemo, Daunorubicin and ATRA oral chemo.
Monday, picc line day. I get wheeled down to the depths of the hospital with my dad. As we waited to go in I looked at him and started to cry. I told him I didn’t want to die....he grabbed my foot and said “I know.”
I was wheeled back in to my room afterwards to see the most beautiful little blonde beauty, my daughter Ayva. I was a disaster the moment I saw her face, crying! Ayva looked at me and didn’t say a word, she wouldn’t touch me, hug me, speak to me...she barely sat on the edge of my bed. She was terrified. So was her momma.
Tuesday, my dad goes out and talks to one of the nurses, Sue. He asked her what was going on with me and why no one is saying much anymore. He asked her if I was going to make it and her response was “we don’t know where her bus stops”
Later that day my medical team shows up in my room....all 6 of them. Surrounding the end of my bed. Dr. Elemary takes the lead in conversation and said “you’re a mystery to us and we have some news!”
Optimistic, I like up and say “I don’t have cancer!”
———-can you say tough crowd———
Dr. Elemary said “well no but things are coming up in your bloodwork and it’s changing your diagnosis completely. We have never seen this before. You are the only person in Canada to ever have this form of leukemia.”
Nurse Sue said “your case is so baffling to us that we don’t just leave our work here. We take this home at night to study what’s going on. Your cancer is so rare that less than 2% of the world population has this form of leukemia. The last known living person to have this is from Germany so that’s where your treatment is coming from.”
“So what it is?” I asked
“So you have this M3 component popping up in your bloodwork, which changing your diagnosis from ALL to AML but with this component it actually changes to APL (Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia), meaning no more bone marrow transplants, stem cell transplants or Seattle trips!”
Dr. Elemary then says “to have leukemia, this is the best form to have, you have the potential to be cured down the road”
I’m obviously in disbelief and overjoyed all that the same time but I then ask what that means for my future family.
Will I be able to have more babies?
Dr. Elemary said he didn’t think that looked promising at all as I have to get hit hard with chemo. I asked if I could save my eggs but there was no chance as my entire body was riddled with cancer.
I turned to Landon, we had only been dating under 2 years, and said “well if this is a deal breaker, you better make a decision now.”
With all the confidence in the world he said “I don’t think we will have a problem!”
I finish 30 days in the hospital, spent my 26th birthday in there, and was finally released. Having to rent a place in Saskatoon for the month after realizing I couldn’t be driving back and forth from elbow 3 times a week, things were going to be ok.
My mom stayed with me in Saskatoon, my grandma came to elbow and watched Ayva when she wasn’t at her dads, and Landon came up to visit even after his long hours at the work. My mother and I walked every night. We would walk from Spadina Cres where our house was, all the way to the cancer clinic on the days I had treatment. Once I would have a round of treatment, within 7 days, my counts would begin to drop and I would have to be admitted for a few days. The last time I could feel my counts dropping we still walked to the clinic. After Having to take a few breaks along the way we finally made it. After getting my bloodwork done, Dr. Elemarys nurse, Anne, came and found us and took us to the room. Looking at me she asked “what are you guys doing at home?!” Thinking I was in trouble I promised her we weren’t doing anything bad, walking every night, eating healthy, staying up way to late and laughing with each other, I thought we were good.
Anne said “well keep doing it, you’re a rock star! Your counts are coming back all on their own!! You don’t need to be admitted!!”
Those words were like God parted the cloud and shon his light on me.
After the month of living in Saskatoon it was time to go home and Start my life again. I continued treatment for 2 years which consisted of 21 pills a day for 2 weeks and one week off.
Landon proposed a September 8, 2013! Dr. Elemary told me I was done my treatment plan just one week shy of our wedding!
We got married August 16, 2014!
After having to book my first appointment at Aurora fertility treatment in Saskatoon, we thought we would have a long process at trying to start a family. At my first appointment, Dr. Allison Case ran a standard pregnancy test....we were already 6 weeks pregnant with our son, Aumie! He was born Dec 7, 2015, perfectly healthy! Despite some difficulties after my cesarean, I hemorrhaged and lost over 2 litres of blood.
18 months later we gave birth to our daughter Rory with zero complications!
God has blessed me and my family! I am forever thankful for the things I have gone through, overcome and achieved! I am a survivor!
If I could say anything to anyone who is going through this, it would be
Don’t give up, this is your life, fight for it!