April 1 2016, they told us “congratulations it’s a girl”. It was the happiest day of our lives. Holding our newborn Austyn Olivia, was the best feeling ever. Six months later, October 8 2016, they told me its cancer. A very aggressive form of leukemia. The week prior to this announcement I had noticed huge dark painless bruises forming all over my body. Being a new mom, I told myself I would just call the doctor on Monday. With my background in phlebotomy I figured my blood was thin and I would need a vitamin or supplement, I never thought Cancer.
At the time we were out of town at my husband's Motorcycle competition and planned to be home in a few days. I was feeling super weak and was bleeding from my nose. When we did get home, I fed the baby and I told my husband I needed to go to the ER. I was getting a horrible headache because I was scared that I was going to have a brain aneurysm (like my mother did when I was 18). Not going to the hospital was not an option. I owed it to our daughter to be around to watch her grow.
Fast forward to midnight, I was told my platelets were extremely low. The average person has 150,000 platelets, and I had 9,000. I needed a blood transfusion. My brother sat with me until my dad got to my house to take care of the baby, so my husband could come. Later that afternoon a doctor entered my room and introduced herself from oncology, and my heart dropped. She was very direct and told me I had acute promyelocitic leukemia. She also stated that if I had waited just 24 more hours to come in I wouldn't have survived. Not only was my blood count extremely low, I hemorrhaging from a disease called DIC. She told me she had already ordered the meds to begin chemotherapy immediately. All I could think about was that I was not going to die and have Austyn grow up without a mother. But the odds seemed to be stacking up against me.
We had 72 hours for the treatment to take effect. I was transferred to UCSF and started chemo that night. I did chemotherapy three times a day, one IV form and two doses pill form. This went on for six weeks. It was very touch and go.
My daughter’s first Halloween was spent with me in the cancer unit. My brother and his wife brought my nieces and nephew to trick-or-treat in my room. We were all so scared this would be our last holiday together. My husband spent almost every night with me, and only went home during the day to be with our baby. I was finally released to go home “a true miracle” said many nurses.
I continued chemotherapy seven days a week for five weeks and then five days a week for another 5 weeks. I've had a total of 187 rounds of chemotherapy and well over 100 blood transfusions. But I'm blessed to say I am two and a half years in molecular remission. I can't thank my husband and family enough for all their love, support and help not just with me but with my daughter. It takes a village and mine is pretty awesome.