Age at Diagnosis: 26 (2006)
Current Age (at time of profile):
Sadly, Stephanie Chisholm passed away peacefully on December 22, 2007 at the age of 28. As expressed by a survivor who knew Stephanie, "she has always presented herself as a high spirited, strong person, who helped others and shared inspirations in life". The preceding profile is one which Stephanie completed in 2006.
Medicine Hat, Alberta
How did you find out you were sick? What events led to the diagnosis?
In the months leading up to my diagnosis, I would get this ridiculous pain in my abdomen and it would come and go. My doctor figured I had a fibroid -benign tumor- which they could just cut out. Yeah, I wish. She wanted to put me on a drug called Lupron to put me into menopause to shrink the fibroid. Much to my surprise, when I went to have the drug administered, my doctor no longer worked at that clinic. I was in a major panic so I saw the other doctor there who did not agree with my diagnosis and decided that he needed to further investigate. I ended up in the ER with a fever and then I had emergency laparoscopic surgery and a DNC. The doctor told me something looked strange but thought maybe it was just endometriosis. The pathology was returned and showed some kind of sarcoma.
What year was it? What was your age at the time?
2006; age 26.
Do you work? I was working as an insurance broker.
What was your diagnosis?
Stage 4 Ovarian Carsinosarcoma.
What are your career goals?
My career goal has changed to help other people with cancer or other illness.
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
I am going to die.
How did your family react?
Devastated. My sister let me and my husband move in with her; she is a RN so that was very helpful. My mom and dad were there all the time and offered me a lot of support. My other sister was around a lot even though she just had her first baby the day I was diagnosed.
How did your friends react?
Seems some people are definitely avoiding me. Except for my best friend, they never seem to want to hear about it.
What did your treatment consist of?
Medical Side: 10 treatments of radiation to my hip, so far. I have had seven taxol/carboplatinum and get more every three weeks. Two more to go (I hope).
Non-Medical Side: I seem to get more tired after each treatment and I always have a sore belly but other then that I feel okay; better then I would expect someone in this situation to feel. I was bitten by a wasp a couple of weeks ago and I told my mom that the wasp bite is way worse then chemo.
In which hospital(s) were you treated?
Tom Baker in Calgary and Medicine Hat Cancer Clinic.
What is your current medical status?
GOOD!!!! Cancer seems to be disappearing.
How is life different for you now post diagnosis (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually)?
My life is very different now. I used to go out and drink and smoke; now I do not. My body looks very different as I have a huge scar running down my belly and a port-a-cath in my abdomen that looks like a pig nose. And of course, the regular bald head. I am more spiritually connected then before. I actually think that this has made me emotionally stronger then I ever was before.
What is/was the toughest part of your challenge?
A doctor told me that I had no hope and I was going to die within two months. She was wrong.
What is/was the best part of your challenge?
Learning the importance of life.
What really motivated you to keep going while you were sick?
My family and wanting to see my nephew grow up.
What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience?
I have learned the value of life and I have learned to appreciate the world and people around me.
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
No, I have not attended any support groups.
If you did not attend a support group, why?
There is not a support group available in the city I live in but I would attend one if there was.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer?
I picked up the pamphlet at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. I think it is a good place for young people to share their experience with cancer and it is really nice to know that you are not alone in this.