Jordan

Active LifeList Participant

I was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma in January of 2023. I was a high school senior, three months away from graduating. I first noticed I was struggling with really bad breathing during football season in August of 2022. I didn’t want to sit out my football season so I was resisting going to get checked up at first. About midseason I finally agreed with my mother that I would go get checked up and I was told it was pneumonia without getting imaging and was first put on antibiotics for a few months. While I was on antibiotics, I was still playing football and eventually finished the season off well. More months went by and my breathing was just getting worse, so January came around and they finally agreed to allow me to get imaging and they found a very large tumor in my left lung. Once they found the tumor, I was immediately taken by ambulance to the hospital. Once I got there, they took imaging on my full body and ended up finding cancer in a few other places, including my brain. They immediately came up with a plan and I started chemo. Finding this out really upset me and it really changed my future goals and plans of playing college football after graduation. I went through multiple rounds of chemo and radiation. It initially worked, but then came back sadly, then I was put on a trial medication that I did very well on. I recently found out that there is now growth again so we came up with a new plan to restart and do chemo again.

Jordan’s LifeList:

  1. Tickets to the Ohio State vs Michigan game for he and his family.

Jody

Active LifeList Participant

I’m a lovely 38-year-old cyber security expert who was diagnosed with rectal cancer on February 9, 2023. I had just moved to live with my mother when I was admitted to the hospital with severe abdominal pain and a blood infection. I was very sick. After several emergency room visits, I was eventually diagnosed with stage 3 rectal (and lung) cancer. Prior to then, I was very healthy. I never thought, in a million years, that I would get cancer. Not only was the diagnosis shocking, but the recommended treatments of chemotherapy and radiation would make me sick, take my hair, and destroy my uterus and ovaries, thus making it impossible to carry or have my own biological children. I was 85 lbs, exhausted, destroyed, and much that made my life worth living was gone.

Life is a choice.

The emergency colostomy surgery they did saved me. I could now eat again, and slowly, I found more reasons to live: a bath, my beautiful white Persian cat, online shopping, Zelda, my brother, my sister…

Finding the Mayo Clinic was a complete blessing. I got the best oncology team, recommendations for egg harvesting, ovarian transposition surgery, treatment for numerous complications, psychological therapy, pain management, a young adult’s support group, friendly and competent nurses, and new hope.

To date, I’ve completed 7 months of chemotherapy, which reduced the size of the tumor by 60%. Still, radiation is the best way to eliminate this form of cancer. I did everything I could to preserve my fertility organs in preparation, and we even got proton radiation approved by my insurance, which will hopefully improve my chances of having children one day.

Jodyy’s LifeList:

  1. Vortex of Attraction cruise with Esther Hicks.

Haley

Active LifeList Participant

Hi my name is Haley and, at age 23, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I started chemotherapy shortly after being diagnosed and have been going every two weeks since March.

Haley’s LifeList:

  1. Meet Lainey Wilson.

Cristine

Active LifeList Participant

I wasn’t feeling well leading up to the holidays and made my physical appointment for the day before I turned 35. I went for blood work and my liver levels were elevated. Further testing, scans, and a biopsy and I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer on Feb 25,2024. I started my first treatment on March 1 and am currently in chemo and on hormone targeted therapy.

Cristine’s LifeList:

  1. Family trip to Orlando.

Berenise

Active LifeList Participant

Before life threw this curveball at me, I was a working mom who always put her children first. Life was busy, between piano lessons, guitar lessons, church choir, and baseball. I love to travel and in 2023, I was living my best life at 37 years old. On December 5, 2023 I went to the hospital as it was the second day I was feeling chest pain and shortness of breath. The doctors found a racquetball sized tumor on my thymus and was diagnosed with a Thymoma. When I visited the oncologist, he suspected it may not necessarily be a Thymoma, but rather Lymphoma. On January 26, 2024, I went through a needle-biopsy which came back as “inconclusive.” During one of many hospital visits, a wise nurse told me I had to be my own advocate and I decided to make an appointment at the best cancer center in the state. On February 7, 2024, my doctor visit quickly turned into an ER visit. I underwent a surgical biopsy to analyze the tissue. This surgery caused me the most excruciating pain of my life. On February 14, 2024, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. The cancer is surrounding the thymus and the lining of my heart. My treatment was six rounds of chemo, each round consisting of 5 days. Thankfully, I completed the last treatment in June. This has not been an easy journey, but I am determined to beat cancer! I have a PET scan scheduled next month and I hope to get good news.

Berenise’s LifeList:

  1. Family trip to Colorado in November so her kids can see snow.

Ashley

Active LifeList Participant

I was a healthy 33-year-old woman who was very active. I did martial arts, ran half marathons, enjoyed weightlifting, and ate healthy. I noticed I wasn’t recovering from a cough my family and I had, and after a few months of a small cough and negative COVID, pneumonia, and flu tests, I woke up and felt strongly in my gut that something was terribly wrong. I made an emergency call with a doctor in my clinic describing my ongoing (minor) symptoms and, after I informed her that I felt I needed to go get tests for lung or throat cancer, I was told “honey, go see a therapist.” My health continued declining and throughout the next 365 days as I was misdiagnosed with long covid, asthma, acid reflux, anxiety, and pneumonia twice. On the 366th day after 15 hospital/ER/urgent care visits, I was diagnosed with blood clots, a PE, and stage 4 lung cancer. I went through chemo, radiation, and immunotherapy, then had my right lung removed. A year later I had immunotherapy induced hepatitis and two recurrences. I am currently undergoing radiation treatment to spot treat a few areas. We are waiting until my next scan to decide future treatment, whether it’s continuing to spot treat, chemo, or a clinical trial.

Ashley’s LifeList:

  1. Trip to Australia with her kids to visit family.

Kate

Active LifeList Participant

I was 36 in July of 2023 when I began having debilitating headaches. The pain was so bad that nearing August, I couldn’t even sleep or keep down water. An MRI I had in late August revealed a large and aggressive tumor in my brain. I underwent surgery to remove the tumor, which was the size of a lime. After this, I went through treatment and was later accepted into a clinical trial. I am still currently undergoing treatment.

Kate’s LifeList:

  1. I would love to have an ABBA experience in London and go to MAMMA MIA! THE PARTY and the ABBA Voyage show



Caitlin

Active LifeList Participant

I was diagnosed with a rare variation of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) on October 10th, 2022 at the age of 24. I had just been promoted at my job at Starbucks, and was in my last semester of my undergrad studies. Unfortunately both of those things were put on pause for over a year while I got through the first bit of my cancer journey. 

After several days of not being able to hold down any food or even water, I visited my local urgent care on a Saturday. By Tuesday night, I was flown out to a hospital in another city because of the severity of my condition. Upon arriving at the hospital, I spent one week in the ICU and two weeks as an in-patient to receive several rounds of chemotherapy treatments.

I was released from the hospital and approved to stay near the facility and receive outpatient care until my next two rounds of chemotherapy were scheduled. Each round, I was admitted back into the hospital for extended stays. I have technically achieved remission as of November 2022. However, the rare AML variant that I have can be aggressive and is often recurring even after achieving remission.

As a next step in my treatment plan I received a stem cell transplant. My 15 year old brother was my match and donor! The treatment I received to prep for my transplant was some of the hardest and most miserable rounds that I have ever experienced. 

Thankfully I have officially had my first “birthday” post transplant in January 2024! Most things are going very well post transplant, and I consider myself extremely lucky! I am currently still in maintenance treatment due to the persistence of my AML variant. I receive a round of chemo every day for one week, every four weeks. Because of my health and balancing my return to work, I have had to save all of my extra time off to do follow up appointments that are hours away from my hometown every other month. My husband and I would love for the opportunity to be able to travel for fun once more, instead of the long and frequent trips we make for my follow ups!

Caitlin’s LifeList:

  1. Take a trip to Disney World/ Universal Studios with my husband and my siblings

  2. Visit Disneyland in Tokyo with my husband

Siobhan

Active LifeList Participant

I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer when I was 37 weeks pregnant with my third baby. I completed 27 rounds of chemo with a newborn and two toddlers; then I returned to work full time as a public middle school teacher. For one year, I continued my maintenance treatments and various hormone treatments, but I have a local progression and will begin a new line of treatment in a few weeks.

Siobhan’s LifeList:

  1. Airfare to Charleston from Boston for family of 5

Samantha

Active LifeList Participant

At the age of 28, in May of 2023, I received my official diagnosis. I had stage III Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was a significant moment overshadowed by the looming plans of my destination wedding set for September of the same year.

The timing couldn’t have been more surreal; my biopsy surgery coincided with the Friday of what was supposed to be my bachelorette weekend. Initially, I hesitated, and considered canceling, but my closest friends insisted on me going to my biopsy and being by my side. Thus, we transformed the event into “Sammy’s Wellness Weekend,” spending our time by the pool, concocting smoothies, and downing ginger shots. It was a blend of bittersweet moments of joy amid the foreboding anticipation of test results hinting it was more than likely cancer.

When the news finally arrived, it hit me like a sledgehammer. I needed to start  chemotherapy immediately, as the cancer had already spread throughout my body. Shock consumed me, and totally shattered all my plans. Desperate to have my wedding while I still had a full head of hair, my mom took charge, organizing a local wedding within a mere two weeks. Juggling chemotherapy treatments and full-time work, I found myself immersed in a whirlwind of emotions, barely able to keep pace with the rapid changes. 

The wedding day, though beautiful beyond words, was a struggle. My physical condition weighed heavily on me, robbing me of the energy to fully enjoy the festivities. The grand wedding dance I had envisioned didn’t happen. With the onset of treatment, I had to pause numerous aspirations – starting a family, embarking on vacations, pursuing professional milestones. Hindered by the limitations of my small company’s minimal short term disability policy, I had to balance between medical leave and financial stability, often resorting to unpaid absences during the grueling chemo sessions. I have finished chemotherapy and am currently waiting for PET scans and results to come back. 

Samantha’s LifeList:

  1. A honeymoon trip for her and her husband