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    Decision Point (Take a chemo of which I was potentially allergic or not): I developed an allergic reaction to one of the chemos,where I developed hives and my throat swelled. Because I was in between trials, I was given the choice to continue to take it or not. The chemo was combined with another drug to keep the chemo in my system longer. Thus I could have been allergic to the chemo part or the added non-chemo part. In the end I chose not to take the chemo. If I had chosen to take the chemo, the doctors would have just given me the chemo part in small doses and wait to see if I reacted. If I did not react, then they would continue to give me the chemo.

    This was the first time I felt like I could die. I thought, if I take the chemo and did not need it, then it is more poison in my body and could result in increasing my chance for secondary cancers. If I did not take the chemo and needed it, then I could also die. To me it felt like a no win situation. My parents allowed me to make my own decision and after talking with them, praying about it, and talking to my doctors, I decided not to receive the chemo. All has turned out well so far. I have been in remission since January 2004 and completely finished with treatment since April 2006 with no relapses or secondary cancers. Praise God!

    (For ALL it is normal to technically be in remission in the first week or two of treatment)

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    Procedure or Surgery (Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)): I have had quite a few lumbar punctures (LP). The procedure is fairly simple and not painful, only slightly uncomfortable. I had lidocaine to numb the area where the LP would be performed. After the procedure, I had to lie down for awhile to reduce the chance of a spinal headache. I had one spinal headache, which was painful and lasted a few days. My doctors said the older one is the bigger chance of having a spinal headache. I think I had a spinal headache because the doctor had a hard time finding a spot to access the spinal fluid. This was not a normal occurrence for me at least.

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    User: GregP_WN

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    Procedure or Surgery (Bone marrow aspirations): I have had a total of 6 bone marrow aspirations with two of them being biopsies. The first one I had with only lidocaine. It is a weird kind of dull pain and it felt like when one sucks a straw that is stuck to the bottom of the glass. Breathing and staying relaxed through the procedure helps. Because I was in pediatrics oncology, the rest of the time I had conscious sedation, so I do not remember it being painful. I did not like the recovery from conscious sedation because it gave me a slight headache that usually did not last too long. After the procedure I was sore where the aspiration had been performed, but it was not too bad.

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    Oh No (Diagnosed): “You have cancer,” are not words any person wants to hear, but these are the words I heard December of my senior year of high school. I distinctly remember sitting on the hospital bed while my doctors informed my parents and me that I have cancer, I will lose all my hair, and I will not be returning to school in January much less college in the fall. Oddly enough, I did not start to cry until my doctors told me I would not be going back to school and college in the fall. Going away to college was my dream that I had been working towards all through high school and I felt like it was ripped away from me. I had a peace I would not die and this experience with cancer was something I just had to go through. I believe this peace helped me through the initial process and throughout my treatment. Also, I believe the initial diagnosis did not affect me as much at first because I was in shock.

    My treatment was in total 2 year and 4 months with intense treatment of weekly chemo treatments the first year. It was difficult for me to go from being very active to doing almost nothing because of the chemo, which affected my energy level and immune system. I felt lazy and very unproductive. It took me awhile to finally give myself some grace to heal and relax and once I reached that point I enjoyed the break from the busy life I had been leading before.

    Even though at first I felt as if my dream of going to college was gone, I did graduate from high school that year and after taking a year off after high school, i went to UCLA. I am very grateful for the forced year off because while I was sick I realized the importance of relationships. Relationships with my family, friends, healthcare team, and even strangers, who visited me, sent me cards, treated me, and prayed for me, is what helped me overcome cancer. Before this experience, I was too academic focused and I now realize I was not ready to go away to college. The lesson on the importance of relationships with people is something I will always take away with me because I realized relationships are what last.