10 months ago i was living my usual life, going to school, training, competing, singing, and of coarse worrying about grade 12 prom dress.
10 months ago, i had long blond hair and zero scars on my body.
But 10 months ago, i was half the person i am today.
2 years ago i was competing in North Bay Ontario and my coach noticed that i was breathing pretty hard from just walking up the stairs in our hotel. I didn’t even think twice about it because thats how i always felt.
When i got home from the competition i went to see our family doctor, i had countless x-rays done and lots of blood taken. Finally I was prescribed a puffed for my “exercise induced asthma.”
About 6 months later i noticed i coulnt really run anymore. I used to run laps of the field at my school before i left for skating practice and i started to notice i was dizzy and exhausted after about 1 lap. I could barley ever land the last jump in my figure skating solo, and my breathing was so loud, we could hear it in all my music recordings. We came to the conclusion i was out of shape and i needed to work harder.
I started my grade 12 year at school knowing it was going to be a highly competitive skating year. I wanted to be in the best shape possible, so i knew i needed to get my cardio up.
I went to the recording studio to record a few songs for my Berklee Audition and the recording engineer asked me if i could breath quieter…. i didn’t really know how to do that because my breathing was always loud and thats just the way it was.
My mom decided it was time to take me back to the doctor, they sent us to have a VO2 Max test. My results were above average, but that was expected because i was an athlete. So it seemed like nothing was wrong. Finally we were sent to see a respiratory therapist he had me do a few different things and him and my family doctor decided to put me on a 5 day steroid medication. The 5 days on the medication was the most alive and energetic i had been in over a year. I thought i was finally getting better. Once i got off the medication things felt even worse. The respiratory therapist decided i needed to see a ENT (ear nose and throat specialist). My appointment was made for a few weeks down the road. I went home that day and started choking on my lunch. My mom new it was time to take me to the hospital. They diagnosed me with basically a whole in my lung. They told us to come back on Monday for a follow up appointment in the pediatric ward. My mom was shocked that they were sending us home. I still could barely breath. My mom stayed by my side for the weekend and slept right beside me at night. But i didn’t sleep those 3 days. I felt like i was running i race and i never reached the end, and never felt any relief. We went for my appointment Monday and they omitted me to the hospital. I sounded like i had just run a marathon and i was loosing weight by the day. The ENT sent a camera down my throat to take a look inside. His face turned white and he left the room.
I wasn’t even at the hospital for an hour before i was moved to isolation in the Intensive Care Unit. No one really new what it was, as far as i was concerned, it was a lump. My doctors told my parents that this “lump” was too large to remove and our options are limited. After a CT Scan, i was sent straight into a tracheotomy surgery. In other words an “awake trach.” My CT Scan showed that i only had 2mm of airway left and it could close any second. There was no time to ambulance me to sick kids, the surgery had to be done at North York.
I realized after experiencing a tracheotomy operation with no antithetic i could probably handle anything, but i had no idea what i had ahead of me.
After i had the trach put in i stayed in the hospital for 12 days. The support from my friends and family was unbelievable. I can honestly say i don’t think i had one minute alone since the moment i was out of surgery. My friends would leave school at lunch, during spare, or any time they could, just so they could come spend time with my and make things a but easier for me. I clearly remember one day my friends, Jill, Denzelle, Sydney and Katherine came in and painted my nails and gave ma a “girls night” right in the hospital. I can still remember all teh nurses walking by my room and saying “can we come take a look at the wall?” My friends and family created this amazing wall of support the reached from one side of the room to the other.
The Pathology report was sent around Canada and the United states for further investigation. I was diagnosed with a malignant Melanoma in the trachea (7TH reported case in the world). Melanoma is not treated with chemotherapy so my surgery to remove the tumor was booked for March 7th 2013. A few days before my surgery we got a call from my surgeon. My Pathology reports had come back different. I was now diagnosed with a Clear Cell Sarcoma (1st reported case in the world). A medical oncologist from Sick Kids hospital wanted to meet with us that day to discus options. Although it is not proven that Chemotherapy would be beneficial for me we decided to give it a shot. My tumor was very large and anything that could possibly help shrink it before surgery was worth a shot.
I spent 3 months in and out of Sick Kids going through chemotherapy and i will say it was not easy. The effects of chemotherapy are unlike anything i have every felt before. Your whole body changes, everything feels and tastes different. You also go bald. I had no idea what it was going to be like being bald but its kind of something you get used to. I tired to tell myself “ just suck it up buttercup” but sometimes it wasn’t that easy. When they told me i was going to loose my hair i said “bring on the razor,” i wanted to shave my head the second i got the news. But once its gone its much different. I can honestly say i don’t remember much of those 3 months. So i would like to say thank you to everyone who supported me and helped my family and i through those months.
Once chemo ended we knew it was going to be time for surgery soon. My surgery was then booked for July 2nd 2013. I was definitely a bit afraid leading up to the big day but i knew being afraid wasn’t going to do me any good. I needed to believe everything was going to go perfectly and i was going to be back to my normal self in no time. Soon enough July 2nd came, we woke up at 4:30am just to get down to the hospital in time. I walked across university ave wrapped in a blanket into Toronto General Hospital. They started to get me all prepped for the surgery. My surgeon drew a line on my neck where he was going to make the incision. My nerves finally started to kick in, but i knew i had to stay calm. My doctors were wonderful adn they knew what they were doing. He looked at my parents and said “im going to do my best to get this thing out”
5 hours later i came out of surgery. My family anxiously waiting in the holding room when my doctor came out to explain that everything had gone better then expected. Before my surgery they was no grantee it could be removed, but everything went extremely well. The news couldn’t have been better for my family and i.
After surgery i spent another 2 weeks recovering in the hospital. And although the tracheotomy was gone, i a T tube, which would stay for about 20 days.
About a month later, i was back at the hospital for a T- tube removal surgery. But this one was much less intimidating then the last. I knew exactly what was going to happen and i knew i would be home in a few days.
September came and it was time to start my last leg of treatment. 6 weeks of radiation. I’m not gonna lie, going downtown every morning before 8am wasn’t really my favorite part of the day. But it let me spend a lot of time with my family. Between waiting for treatment, driving to treatment and spending time at home. Radiation only became difficult after about week 3. I lost all my taste, i had a very sore throat and i could barely stay awake all day, but i knew i was so close to the finish line there was no way i was giving up.
- Emergency Tracheotomy surgery
- PICC line insertion
- 6 rounds of chemotherapy
- Tracheal surgery
- T Tube removal surgery
- PICC ling removal surgery
- 6 weeks of radiation
Here i am 10 months later and im still trying to live my normal life, ive been training everyday since september and im competing in 2 weeks. I dont have my long blond hair but i have a substitute. I have countless scars on my body from surgeries and needles but they are only skin deep. February 4th changed my life, and i am so much stronger because of it.
I can finally say I KICKED CANCERS ASS! It’s been quite the journey and such an incredible experience. Thank you to everyone who has been there for me and supported me through everything. I cant thank you all enough. I would not be the person i am today without all of you. Thank you to all of my doctors for getting me healthy and never doubting what i was capable of. From here on its a new beginning and i cant wait to get started.