Ann-Marie Waddell

anne_marie_waddell - profileSadly, Ann-Marie passed away on Saturday, August 28, 2010 at the age of 25. She was surrounded by people who loved her dearly and there were many! YACC’s team and all the survivors and supporters in our family feel privileged to have known her and will carry her strong spirit. 

Ann-Marie wrote an inspiring quote on Facebook who we think represents her so well, she was a fighter, she was strong, positive and never hang up the gloves:

Cancer – I intend to beat you, overcome you and defeat you. You are my battle, my blood, my weakness. I will live each day knowing that I am stronger than you. I will fight you. I will live.

By Ann-Marie (1985-2010)

Thanks for being in our lives

Age: 24

Hometown: Ardrossan, Alberta

What school did you attend? Arch Bishop Jordan High School and Concordia University College

Do you work? Administrative Assistant for Brent MacIntosh

What is your career goal?

Something related to the Health Care Field (Patient Navigator)

How did you find out you were sick? What event led to the diagnosis?

Hives, that covered the whole body, lots of colds, tonsillitis, not digesting food, muscle weakness, anemia, diabetes

What year was it? What was your age at the time?

2004, 18 years old

At what level of education were you at diagnosis? 

Just graduated high school

What was your diagnosis?

Stage 4B Thymoma

What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?

How could this have happened?  I’ve been healthy all my life!  How could I have a tumor in my body!

How did your family react?

Disappointed, upset

How did your friends react? Were you treated any different?

From close friends, I was treated the same.

What did your treatment consist of?

I had a sternotomy and thoracotomy while in the hospital, was only able to get a

biopsy down because the tumor was too big to take out.  Then Did 5 cycles of Chemotherapy (Cisplatin, Doxerubincin, Vincristine & Cyclophosphamide) and then went for another surgery (transverse sternotomy in September 2004).  Followed by 25 treatments of radiation.

About 2 ½ years later a PET scan revealed the tumor was starting to come back, so I did a different type of Chemotherapy (paclitaxol and carbonplatnim).  I also went through a 3rd surgery in June 2007.  I began working with a Chinese Herbalist as well as receiving Vitamin C intravenous therapy and Ozone therapy.  Since then I did not undergo anything until November 2008 where I began attending a Clinical Trial in Bethesda, Maryland.

When I was first diagnosed I was very sick!  The chemotherapy was very rough.  Once I got used to the chemo I had a bunch of emotions come back in May and got very emotional.  I experienced every single side effect, losing my hair, mouth sores, chills, night sweats and even went into menopause.

In which hospitals were you treated?

Cross Cancer Institute

University of Alberta for the first Surgery

Foothills Hospital for the last 2 surgeries.

What is your current medical status?

Currently undergoing clinical trial chemotherapy at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Tumor is still present, clinical trial chemotherapy is keeping the cancer stable.

How is life different for you now post diagnosis (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually)?

I don’t have as much energy, don’t party quite as much, have to take things a little slower post diagnoses.

What is/was the toughest part of your challenge?

Living in limbo as far as treatment goes.

What is the best part about having your challenge?

Learning a lot about the Canadian Health Care System.

What really motivates you to keep going while you are sick?

There are so many things I would like to accomplish and take care of, while I’m still so young.

What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience?

No matter how bad your situation there is always someone that has it worse off then you.

What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now?  How have they changed since before your diagnosis?

Yes lots of my thoughts and feelings have changed many times.  My priorities have shifted many times throughout my diagnosis.

What are some (if there are any you know of) preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours?

For cancer in general it is always good to eat healthy and lead an active lifestyle.  Also it is good to get certain prescreening exams done to check for any recent or new cancers developing.

Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?

Yes a support group with all types of different adults and different types of cancers.

If so, what was it like?

It was good, nice to talk to other people who are going through the same things

Did you find it helped?

Maybe a little.

If you did not attend a support group, why?

If there was one for young adults in Edmonton I definitely would have attended.

Do you think attending one would have helped you?

If would have made me make more young friends with adults with cancer in Edmonton, Alberta.

How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada?

Found it on the Internet.

What are your thoughts/feelings on Young Adult Cancer Canada?

It’s great; I’ve been waiting to find a Organization specifically meant for Young Adults with Cancer in Canada.