I was only 23 years old when I was diagnosed with FHC- Fibrolamellar Hepatocelluar Carcinoma-liver cancer! This was completely devastating, to say the least! Life was good! Already married, a mother, and had just accepted a new job-my “dream” job, as I call it.
It all started with what I thought was gallbladder trouble. My doctor ordered a sonogram. At the scheduled appointment, I was told there was a spot on my liver. Test after test proved that yes, in fact it was CANCER! Next was a scheduled appointment with the surgeon. We discussed a resection-removing portion of my liver. I was game for it. I had to do something. My father had just passed away three years prior and I couldn’t leave my family behind. I felt so alone! Knowing life isn’t fair, as a Christian girl, I knew no matter how hard the days were or the outcome, I would be fine. I kept the faith! Family, friends, church family, and the community did so much for me. I showed up to the scheduled resection, and the surgery went great! Portions of my liver were removed as well as my gallbladder, leaving me with a big scar. A day, a week in the hospital I will never forget! I suffered from pneumonia and was hooked on morphine! My oncologist said NO chemo, everyone said I was “lucky” and I was, but that didn’t stop the emotional part. I physically recovered at home within four weeks. Because my doctor saw how well I was doing, he felt it was in my best interest to move forward. Those days adjusting back to what I call “normal” were hard trying to maintain the family life-a wife and mother.
I was told to no longer take birth control; it might have been a factor to the cancer. And no more children, for the same reason, the hormone levels could make the cancer return. But I am proud to say, in 2003, I gave birth to my second child. As my follow up appointments continued, no signs of anything additional showed in the five years course of time-2000-2005. Each one of those appointments, I geared myself up for the worst news ever, the cancer returning-Scanxiety. In 2005, my doctor told me I was free! – Only to come back if I have any symptoms. I was so happy, a relief to be free. At this point in my journey, it was hard to find the common ground. Living as a survivor in a sense is harder, because you don’t have those dreaded appointments to reassure yourself. I knew my story was a must tell. I toyed with the fact of writing it down, but ran from it after looking over all my medical records, journals, cards etc. I realized how real it was and how much emotional pain was still there. Within a year, I felt another tug on my heart to share my story. At this point the writing really began, which was my time of healing. I am happy to share my 10th year cancer free, and my book, Daddy’s Briefcase: My Journey through Liver Cancer, has been released.
Copies may be purchased locally at Lemuria Bookstore or Amazon.com.
Click here to purchase a copy of Ashley’s book.