Diagnosed in August 2012 at 19 years old – passed away March 2016 at 22.
This was written by Kayla:
My name is Kayla and I am 22 years old. I was diagnosed with fibrolamellar hepatocelluar carcinoma on August 10th 2012. It was a shocking and horrifying experience that I never saw coming.
Signs of this cancer started as a young child. I had digestive and appetite issues along with always having a tummy ache/ nausea. I saw several doctors and only had blood and stool samples taken which lead to no results. Years past with nothing that didn’t seem “normal” to me.
I have always been very active. Throughout my life I was involved in basketball, cheer (4 years), Elite dance team (4 years), choir and worked many jobs. I worked two at the time of diagnosis, as a tanning sales associate and a supervisor at Paradise Bakery.
Around 17 years old, my “normal” symptoms starting becoming more intense. I was becoming less active, felt fatigued and slept a lot! I would eat maybe a meal a day and on some days wouldn’t eat at all. I also had a constant little cough and severe right shoulder pain that would never go away no matter what I tried.
For about a year I ignored these symptoms simply thinking it was nothing: that I was just tired from going to school and working two jobs; that I never really had been a big eater, so my not eating wasn’t a big deal, and; that this shoulder pain was from carrying too big and heavy of a purse, backpack and cheer bag. Until August 10th 2014 I was working a normal 12pm -10pm shift. About 3 hours into it my shift, my shoulder pain was all I could think about. I was trying to relive the pain by applying pressure on a corner of a wall. When doing so, I felt a pop in my right side under my rib cage which caused a shocking sensation that hurt terribly. I was buckled over in pain for many hours but couldn’t afford to leave work. On my break I googled right pain symptoms and everything that popped up was “appendix bursting”. So when my shift was completed, I finished closing up the bakery and drove myself to the hospital.
I walked hunched over into the emergency room and informed the people at the desk of what I thought was going on. I was placed into a room as a doctor started questioning what was happening. After performing blood and urine samples, along with a CT scan, X-ray and ultra sound, the lady doctor walked in with a nurse, both of them crying, they delivered the bad news. At 19 years old, I had liver cancer. I was alone and in complete shock. No one in my family has had any type of cancer. And the nurse made me feel like I was going to die that night. I felt fake, unreal, and all I could say was “I wish this wasn’t happening. And at the time I felt moronic for saying something that didn’t change anything.
About 4am I was admitted into the hospital. I had no health insurance and doctors weren’t sure what they were going to be able to do for me. I had to call my mother and my boyfriend who was in the military at basic training to let them know what was going on. Later that week I had a biopsy which resulted in the specific diagnosis ( FHCC). I had two abnormally large tumors on my liver, and it had spread to the lymph nodes. One by my heart and pancreas and the largest just outside my liver. With the excessive amount of disease, I was not a candidate for resection or transplant so the doctors said I had only six months left to live.
I recently moved back to Arizona and, three years later I am still here and fighting hard!
Shortly after sending in this story Kayla passed away.