Shauna Klassen

Shauna_Klassen - profileAge at Diagnosis: 26

Current Age (at time of profile): 28

Hometown

Cobble Hill, BC

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

I had a terrible, immobilizing pain in my side that took my breath away and dropped me to the floor.

[I had an] ultrasound, CT scans, biopsies and what felt like a million doctors appointments.

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

I was diagnosed in January of 2006 and I was 26.

At what level of education were you at diagnosis?

College graduate.

Do you work? Fulltime Mother.

What was your diagnosis?

Fibrolamellor hepatocellular carcinoma (aka a rare form of liver cancer).

What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?

“What? I can’t believe it! How did this happen? But I have a three-month old son!”

How did your family react?

Everyone was in complete shock. They couldn’t understand it and they were very upset because, until this time, I had always been a healthy person.

It was very powerful to finally not feel alone.

How did your friends react?

They [reacted & treated me the] same as my family did.

What did your treatment consist of?

Medical Side: With this type of cancer I was told that chemo and radiation were not effective forms of treatment and therefore surgery was my only option.

Non-Medical Side: Physically and emotionally I was/am exhausted, fragile, depressed, confused, worried/anxious, betrayed, and angry to name a few. It’s like a roller coaster with ups and downs, good days and bad.

In which hospital(s) were you treated?

Vancouver General Hospital, Royal Jubilee Hospital and Victoria General Hospital.

What is your current medical status?

I was just recently diagnosed again,the cancer has spread with two tumors, one in each lung. This is now the third time.

What is/was the toughest part of your challenge?

I can’t single out one thing, but not being able to care for my new baby and being so dependant on everyone has been really tough.

What is/was the best part of your challenge?

Is there a best part?

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

My infant son.

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

Ummm, to take more chances.

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

Well, it’s like dancing with the devil. I feel like I’m being chased by a dark shadow.

Absolutely no one is safe from this disease. It doesn’t matter how you live your life, where you’re from or what background you have…Cancer isn’t picky.

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?

There is no known cause for this type of cancer.

Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?

Yes, at the BC Cancer Clinic I attended a few sessions with the group dedicated to Young Women with Cancer.

The meetings are once a month for two hours each session. It is hosted by a counselor from the clinic; it is very casual/relaxed and very comfortable. The women share their stories and we normally focus on a couple of topics each session. It is not structured though.

It absolutely helped. My first experience was like a breath of fresh air. These women really understood and experienced the same feelings. It was very powerful to finally not feel alone. I remember thinking to myself in the meeting that I didn’t want it to end. Even though your friends and family want to help it is hard for them to relate because cancer, and all that it encompasses (in my experience), is not something that you can explain.

How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer?

I was given a pamphlet for the 2007 Retreat Yourself.

I can’t wait to get more familiar with it.