I wrote the following quotation in August 2016:
“My name is Jessica Olson. I’m twenty years old, a Journalism and Communication and Media student, and I’m facing my third cancer diagnosis.
May 3rd 2011 I was diagnosed with Stage II Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This is a type of lymphoma – a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are part of the immune system. I found this from a lump in my neck, above my right clavical bone, around the size of a golf ball. I was fifteen years old, and had eight rounds of BEACOPP Chemotherapy and two and a half weeks of Radiotherapy. On December 5th 2011 I was CLEAR – now all I had to do was stay PET NEGATIVE (no active cancer) for five years and I had survived.
November 2015 I found another lump, this time under my jaw. I had an ultrasound and it was misdiagnosed as NOTHING. Come April 2016 the lump hadn’t left and I knew something was wrong. I demanded another ultrasound, this time it came back as abnormal. After a biopsy I was told I had Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma (cancer of the saliva gland. They contain three cellular elements in varying proportions: squamous cells, mucus-secreting cells, and “intermediate” cells.) I had a big operation where the gland was removed as well as tissue and 30 lymph nodes. The cancer had been found to have spread to the margin and 1 lymph node but it was a low grade tumour (good sign) – which meant 6 weeks of radiotherapy were in store.
I had 28 doses of every day radiotherapy for six weeks. Three weeks later another lump emerged in the exact same spot. I consulted my physio who was treating me for lymphedema (a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a the removal of lymph nodes, which normally returns interstitial fluid to the thoracic duct, then the bloodstream.) She told me this lump was not scar tissue and to see my doctor immediately. I went straight to the hospital reception, saw my doctor and he sent me for a CT scan immediately. The next day he called to say I needed a biopsy so on Tuesday I went to the hospital for that. The biopsy took forever because they were struggling to extract cells, so they made an incision in my neck and I lost so much blood I had to stay in hospital that day so they could monitor me. On that Friday I got the call that the cancer was back.
I had a meeting with my radiologist that day and he told me I had one option left; one chance. An enormous surgery where a huge chunk of flesh would be removed as well as the tumour. They’re taking out the nerve to control my lower lip on the right side and the nerve that controls my tongue on the right side (which means my smile will be crooked and I’ll have a lisp and most likely need rehab to learn to talk again properly.) I’ll also require a breathing tube in hospital and a feeding tube as my mouth will be so swollen from the surgery. Not to mention, they’re cutting my jaw in half to access it better, so I’ll have a metal plate to reconnect it all.
This was a lot to take in, and after my many years of fighting cancer, treatments and heart break I wasn’t sure if I would take this option. I felt like I had had enough, I’ve tried hard for so long, I’ve battled and remained strong and experienced so much anxiety of a relapse or secondary cancer over the last five years that maybe this was the end. Maybe the reason it kept coming back was because it was the end of my time on earth. I was only 20 but maybe this was God’s plan, and I had to stop fighting fate and let myself go. I asked if I refused the surgery how long would I have, to which he replied “only a matter of months.” There is the option of symptom care, where they medicate you to help you get through the pain as you’re dying, but even so it would be a very slow and painful death for me where the tumour would grow and grow, breaking out of my skin, and I would eventually suffocate to death (so morbid, I know!)”
As you will have seen in my blog posts following, I changed my diet to a vegan, no sugar, very minimal carbs and added many supplements plus cannabis oil to the mix and I achieved remission for 14 months. Unfortunately, we’re back here, as in April 2018 I’ve found another cancerous lump. A relapse of mucoepidermoid carcinoma. A second relapse. My fourth diagnosis with cancer, and my third mucoepidermoid carcinoma diagnosis.
Predictably, I am in a whirlwind of confusion. Those who know me well, know that I need answers for everything; it’s just who I am. Therefore, not having answers as to why I’m back on this journey again has just thrown me completely. I hate not feeling productive, I love to share and I love to investigate into learning new things, which for me has been the alternate side of things; learning how nature can nurture.
So please, enjoy my blogs. They are not meant to be sad, or uncomfortable for you to read; it’s almost like this is just an online diary into my thoughts and my wellbeing. I will be sharing my thoughts, variables that I am learning and things that I am doing.