Tawsha

In May of 2010, during a routine exercise workout I felt a small hard circular cyst-like lump in my left thigh. I left it, simply thinking it was a cyst and by August it had grown to the size of a golf ball. It became visible through my jeans, but I still left it thinking this “cyst” was getting out of control. In October my husband booked me the first doctor’s appointment of my journey. December of 2010, I had surgery to remove the mysterious tumour in my leg. At the time, I told my kids (ages 5 & 6) the doctors were going to take the lump out of my leg to make sure that mommy was healthy. I wanted them to be aware, but not ever afraid.

First thing in the New Year my results came back as a myxofibrosarcoma. Although surprised, I felt very strong and ready for the fight, while my husband had a much more difficult time. He felt helpless, realizing that the most difficult words to say were “my wife has cancer.” These words brought a reality to the diagnosis. My treatment plan consisted of 33 treatments of daily radiation (7 ½ weeks). I realized that the less I allowed the treatments/appointments to affect my daily life routine, the stronger I felt. I put myself in control and didn’t let the cancer hinder me. I scheduled my radiation appointments so I could carry on with my everyday life. I still dropped my kids off at school. I still went to work. I worked my appointments around my life. Carrying on with the everyday things made it seem like nothing had really changed. Following the completion of my treatments, my family and I went on a vacation to Disneyland. I have to say that it truly is the happiest place on earth ;).

Over the next two years, I met with my doctors every three months for routine monitoring: MRIs on my leg, X-rays on my lungs, and yearly CT scans on my lungs. Today, my appointments are spread over 6 months. Though I still dread appointment day, I know the importance of keeping up with my check-ups. In December of 2011, I started my first fundraiser in support of the Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada. The event is held annually at my salon Jigsaw for Hair; our mission is about more than raising the money, it’s about the awareness. If I had been “aware,” I would have gone to the doctor immediately, but cancer in the leg is rarely spoken about. Several types of cancer are more supported in forms of media and advertising, whereas the cancer I experienced has very little exposure. The fundraiser we hold is my way of encouraging awareness. It’s my way of making a little difference for others who may go through a similar journey to me. Being aware could save a life.

My journey has been amazing in ways I may not have imagined at the start. It has helped me realize how precious life is. Discovering its value as I did was inexplicably impactful. Wallowing in self pity was not an option because life doesn’t stop. It simply goes on. People need make the best out of every moment and rise to the challenges life throws their way. Holding on to the positive things was a saving grace through my journey and I encourage others to do the same during such trying times. People need to cherish life and all its precious moments. I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a boss, and this is my story.