Many of us have been affected by cancer, whether it be our own fight or standing beside a loved one who fights. We stand up against cancer and fight the good fight. We have cried together, we have prayed together, we have celebrated together, and we have mourned together. The key word is together, and together with your support we will stand against cancer. This year the Whirlpool Guardian’s slogan is Live, Love, Lindsey after one of our own who has begun her battle. Please read her story below:
I'm very familiar with cancer. When I was 9 years old, I lost two grandparents to cancer. At 14, a beloved cousin and then an aunt passed away from cancer. When I was in my 20s, my last grandparent died from cancer. Over the years, I've had friends battle and win against cancer. Even with all this exposure to cancer, I never thought it would happen to me. Yet here I am...the Lindsey in Live Love Lindsey.
My journey with cancer started with a trip. I'm referring to a trip that left me grasping for my walking buddy to keep from wiping out on the hot pavement, not an exotic vacation. My right foot had gone numb and I had something similar to drop foot. After I discussed this with my doctor, he ordered an MRI of my lumbar spine. The day after the MRI, I received a call from my doctor's nurse that something could be seen in the lower thoracic spine. Another MRI was ordered for that same week. On the Tuesday following the MRI, the nurse called again to tell me that I had a large neoplasm on my spine. She said I was going to need to see a neurosurgeon and possibly an oncologist. I was able to get in with a neurosurgeon at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. After he reviewed my MRI, he determined that a laminectomy was needed because the tumor was actually in my spinal cord. This procedure would relieve some pressure on the tumor and allow a biopsy to be performed. Surgery was scheduled and fear set in. This was the first major surgery I had really ever had and I knew that given the location of the tumor, it would be a surgery that could leave me paralyzed. But, I trusted the doctors and staff, I trusted the medicine and technology and most of all, I trusted that God wasn't finished with me yet.
When I woke up in the recovery area, I was so excited that the numbness was almost totally gone in my right foot that it took me a little while to realize I couldn't feel my left leg. At all. My leg was numb from hip to toe. Again, I knew there were risks associated with that surgery, but this wasn't what I expected. The first few days in the hospital was hard because I had no independence. I had to rely on nurses or family to help me just go to the restroom. The first time I tried to walk on my own wasn't really on my own. I had two physical therapist hold me up to help me walk less than 20 feet. For someone that loves hiking, that was a hard pill to swallow. But then I received news from the surgeon that I would be moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation hospital and I was crushed. I wanted to go home. I wanted to see my dog. But more than anything, I wanted to walk so I went to rehab and relearned to walk while still having my left leg be completely numb.
While in rehab, I was still waiting on the results of the biopsy. A week and a half after the surgery, I received the call from my doctor that the tumor was malignant. He said other words...things I don't remember, but I did remember to ask what type of cancer. Polycystic astrocytoma. It wasn't until meeting with my oncologist that I had a better understanding of the tumor. Thankfully, it's a grade 1, slow growing tumor. According to my oncologist, it's a stubborn tumor...but so am I.