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In 2011 I was diagnosed with undetermined colitis and was prescribed Humaira as an immune suppressant to manage the symptoms. For five years it was managed and during that time I was able to live my life by getting married and starting my family by having a little boy with a little girl on the way.
When I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with my little girl I was extremely uncomfortable with coughing and itching everywhere. I did delivered a beautiful & healthy little girl on October 2016, but my symptoms seemed to be getting worse. After many doctor visits they conducted a biopsy & then they diagnosed me with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer on November 2016. My daughter was only three weeks old and my son was close to two.

After the second chemo treatment I came home and had the worst back pain that would also shoot down my legs. In December 2016 they diagnosed me with Transverse Myelitis and I was paralyzed from the waist down. I spent a month in the hospital after that & did physical therapy daily while continuing my chemo. My husband traveled between both towns to visit me and my in laws would bring my children in once a week to visit. I ended up heading back home in the New Year with one foot brace and a wheeled walker.
After a few scans it started showing that my cancer was not responding to the chemo anymore. So we tried a different chemo and that one didn’t work either so we went back to the Mayo Clinic. They suggested that we get started on the paper work process for a stem cell transplant and in August 2017 I received my Stem cell transplant. After the stem cell transplant they had me do radiation on my chest too.

In the beginning of 2018 I got influenza A, I also became allergic to the maintenance chemo & soon after I became septic. The doctors allowed my children to visit me & the moment they walked in my room was the first time in days I sat up and visited with anyone. My husband still believes that bringing our children up to my hospital room was the medicine I needed to help me keep fighting. After that I got better and was discharged from the hospital so I went back to The Mayo Clinic to visit about what our next step might be. At this point my Mayo doctor told me that I have stage four Refractory Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer & she recommended an immunotherapy treatment called Keytruta (pembrolizumab).

The immunotherapy was going great, but then it allowed my Crohn’s disease to start flaring up. I had to make a decision if I would like to stop the immunotherapy or would I like to get ileostomy surgery. In July 2019 I decided on the surgery to help me better control my Crohn’s disease which would allow me to continue my immunotherapy to help control my cancer.

It’s now March 2021 and I am now living a better quality of life than I ever have. My goal in life is to be able to spend as much time with my family/ loved ones and watch my children grow up. My son just turned six and my daughter is four. I also have two little dogs who act like my children from time to time, but my family keeps me busy and they are my reason I keep going. They are a great distraction too.

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Replies to "In 2011 I was diagnosed with undetermined colitis and was prescribed Humaira as an immune suppressant..."

@jessica0, I'm sure you and @haileyc and @stephtubman have immunotherapies experiences to share.
I bet your son and daughter are your inspiration and distraction from cancer. But I can also imagine that discovering cancer while pregnant compounds all the worries of both cancer and parenthood. Where did you find your emotional and mental support?

Hey @taybro4, congrats on finishing school and your activism. I hope you'll let other AYAs at BTM know about the Mayo support group here and the Zoom meetings. COVID has interrupted life for everyone around the globe, but for the pandemic to hit just as you were figuring out post-treatment life is also a double blow. Has the fact that the world kinda stopped or slowed down, too, been helpful and given you more time to reflect and make a plan? Or has it been like holding back a bull ready to get out of the pen? What did you study as ASU?

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