In 2003, I was 13 and towards the end of my 8th grade year I started getting sick. I had bronchitis and pneumonia. I almost didn’t graduate because I was so sick.
That summer I started getting bloody noses ,even in my sleep! My mom took me to the doctor and she asked my mom to leave. The doctor then preceded to ask me if I was doing cocaine. I was heart broken and told her no. She sent me off to get my nose cauterized.
I turned 14 and started freshman year. Within a month, I fell out of a parked SUV and hurt my neck, shoulder, and arm. The doctor said that I had too much damage from falling out of the car. I transferred to another school because I got behind. I started sleeping a lot like 6pm to 9am and became very weak.
Within days of each other my symptoms became worse. I got lumps under my underarm and went to the doctor again, they gave me some medicine and took some tests. This was the week of my diagnosis.
My lumps got bigger and I went back to the doctor on Monday. This was the week of my diagnosis and my mom took me to the doctors 4/5 times that week. The doctor said,” You went to the doctor 52 times last year.” She then proceeded to say it was all in my head. The last day, the symptoms were worse. I turned yellow, a lump protruded out of my throat, and the gums of my teeth covered the whites of my teeth. She did some tests and when she got the results she called my mom and said,” The ambulance is on the way. Brittany has cancer.”
My mom later told me why she was so oblivious to the fact that I was sick. The doctor told her that she could only have 3 cancer patients in her career and I was number 4. I guess it was an unspoken rule of pediatric doctors idk but I guess it is bad luck. Later the doctor saw us and felt guilty and told us she donated her bone marrow.
That night was horrible. I had a swarm of doctors and staff around my bed in the hospital. I had High Risk AML Leukemia.They explained to me that I had 255,000 white blood cells with 95% cancer blasts when a normal person has up to 15,000. They asked me if I wanted to do chemo and I said no. MY KITTENS’ FIRST BIRTHDAY WAS THE NEXT DAY AND I WANTED TO SEE THEM. They explained to me if I don’t do chemo, I WILL HAVE 24-HOURS TO LIVE. My mom gave them the go ahead and they cleaned my blood and I don’t remember anything else that night. I remember the next couple of days, I told them,” That I was done with all of this.” But I had no choice.
This all happened in February 2005, in March, I lost my hair. I actually remember this. I started pulling my hair out and started laughing.
On Easter, I got to go home for the first time in 2 months, it was only for like a weekend because I had mouth sores all the way down my esophagus and couldn’t eat. I went back into the hospital and they got so bad I couldn’t talk. I had a notepad and pen to write everything I needed to say. Since I couldn’t take medicine I ended up with a 106 temperature. This is the first moment I thought I was going to die. I was afraid to close my eyes and that my head was going to blow off. No one knew because I couldn’t talk.
When my mom came to check my temperature she told the nurses and they rushed me to icu. I was put on ice blankets and stuff to get my temperature down. I don’t remember the rest of this.
In May, I got my 4th round of chemo (let me tell you a little bit about the chemo shot. 10% get pancreatitis because of this shot, I begged my mom not to let me get this shot but I had no choice) and they discharged me but the hospital had a prom so I stayed. I was parked outside( I was in a wheelchair) the blackjack table all night. The nurse checked my temperature and I was back in the ER. I was soon released and went home. I had stomach cramps when I was home. A couple days later, my mom found me on the bathroom. I kept telling her,” 5 more minutes and I’ll get up” She called 911 and 4 firemen had to pick me up off the floor and carry me up the stairs to the firetruck. I was told I had acute pancreatitis. I am the 10%. I was in so much pain the nurses overmedicated me. I don’t remember the rest of June. I just know one time I had to go to the bathroom, and I fell because my legs were like jello. I had no muscles in my legs.
In July, when I got off a certain medication and was conscious, I was only allowed to eat 2 grams of fat. My doctor came in and told my mom that I could eat anything I want because I need the calories. My mom begged me to eat hot fudge sundaes and the like.
My 15th bday was coming up and I didn’t want to be out of the hospital for it. I told my doctor that and he said,” No, you are too sick.” I told him that I was getting out for my birthday whether he said yes or no. Next few days, he told me he couldn’t do the last round of chemo because it would kill me. My body was taking too long to recuperate between each round of chemo. I got released because there was nothing they could do for me.
That was the last time I was hospitalized for so long.
Since the chemo is poison it messes with your body and causes long term side effects. I won’t get into those but I am dealing with those now. It is said to last up to 25 years after the last dose of your chemo. I am 7 years cancer free now.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I left a lot out because I didn’t want it that long or I don’t remember so I didn’t want to write it.
I never regret the fact that I had gotten cancer because it has made me who I am today. I am an inspiration to others and that makes me happy.
I take one day at a time and never plan ahead.
The top picture was at the hospital prom May 2005
The middle picture was After donating my hair to Locks of Love May 2011
The bottom picture was September 2012 after the OMG Stupid Cancer Conference in NYC.