Courtney Howe

Courtney Howe - profileAge at Diagnosis: 2001 (14)

Hometown: Maidstone, ON

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

I was 14 and feeling very tired; I had a loss of appetite and energy. I kept nagging my mom and had a physical at my doctors. His first diagnosis was severe anemia, but with more tests and a more careful look he called my mom and said I think she has leukemia, get her to London!

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

At what level of education were you at diagnosis?

Going into Grade 9.

Do you work? Yes. I currently have two jobs (both at the mall!).

What was your diagnosis?

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

What are your career goals?

I am enrolled in a five year program at the University that will allow me to leave the U with a bachelor degree in Family and Social Relations, a Teaching Certificate and an ECE diploma. So I’m going to be a teacher! Yippee!

What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?

When I knew what I was being tested for, I knew I had it. I didn’t really think anything, I just knew I was going to beat it.

How did your family react?

They were shocked but incredibly supportive.

How did your friends react?

They were also shocked, I lost a lot of friends but I had a couple that stuck by me through it all. I was going into Grade 9 so they were all very preoccupied with starting high school themselves. I don’t hold it against them; they had their priorities.

What did your treatment consist of?

Medical Side: I went through almost three years of chemotherapy, both in-patient and out-patient. Pills, IV’s; I had a port inserted between my breasts (a port is an internal IV) so chemo was taken by that most of the time. My mommy had to take me to London three times a week (it is a 2 hour drive there and 2 hours back) for several weeks.

Non-Medical Side: My worst symptoms were from prednisone: acne, weight gain, mood swings, increased appetite, joint pain, etc. Other symptoms I experienced were nausea, vomiting, hair loss (bald as a cue ball), severe migraines and depression.

In which hospital(s) were you treated?

London Health Science Center in London, Ontario. Also, Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor, Ontario.

What is your current medical status?

I have been off treatment for almost three years. Two more years and I’m officially cancer free!

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

I am more open and outgoing than I was before.

What is/was the toughest part of your challenge?

Missing my first year of high school.

What is/was the best part of your challenge?

I am more aware of what cancer is and how it affects people. It has made me want to do more to help the affected.

What really motivated you to keep going while you were sick?

My mom. She is my hero.

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

Life is worth living. People love you!

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

I am more scared now than I was before. I am more scared of it coming back than I was before.

Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?

Nope.

If you did not attend a support group, why?

I didn’t feel I needed one. I have a wonderful family that was incredibly supportive.

How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer?

I saw the poster at my hospital and decided it would look fun. I would like to get involved as much as possible.