Lareina is in the middle between her ‘‘best girls’‘
Hometown: Vancouver, BC
What school did you attend? Simon Fraser University
Do you work? Just quit
What is your career goal? Being a Chartered Accountant
Your Cancer experience:
How did you find out you were sick? What event(s) led to the diagnosis?
It was absolutely horrendous. I was fine one day, and within a week, I was so swollen I couldn’t move. I felt sick and bloated on a Sunday, and went to see a doctor by Tuesday. I looked like I was three months pregnant. He said there was also a lot of fluid in my belly, but we didn’t know what it was. They decided to schedule an ultrasound for 10 days later, but I wasn’t comfortable with that. I ended up going into the ER the next day because I was in so much pain I couldn’ move. They sent me home and I came back the next day. And the day after that. It wasn’t until my third day that they decided to admit me. We operated the next evening. That fluid in my belly was my ovary rupturing and hemorrhaging for two to three days. They removed a 15 cm tumor along with my right ovary. It was a huge operation — a nine inch incision hooked above my belly button to my pubic bone.
What year was it? What was your age at the time? January 2010 — 25.
At what level of education were you at diagnosis? University grad; I was working as a Commercial Banking Analyst.
What was your diagnosis? Germ Cell Tumor Ovarian Cancer
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed? “How random.”
How did your family react? Relieved and shocked. It was anti-climactic since we removed the tumor first, then deduced it was cancer and fully contained (which it wasn’t). And it sucked because nobody knew what was going on. I was swollen, I had a tumor, we didn’t know what it was but we needed to get it out asap.
How did your friends react? Were you treated any different? I found out who my really good friends were. People I thought would be there coward away while people I didn’t know were that close really shone through. They’re my bestest now.
What did your treatment consist of?
The first time round we had the surgery, and the oncologist told me it was contained. We did weekly blood tests to monitor the tumor markers and as of March 24, I was cancer free. I quit my job to take some time off, and on June 9, they re-diagnosed it. We didn’t get it all. I was devastated. I had a job that was paying for all my medical and now I had nothing.
They told me I was to do four cycles of chemo — five days on, 16 days off. I just finished my first cycle of chemo this week. I think I held it pretty well, but it’s definitely draining. I’m a very active girl, and to be completely laid out sucks. I quit my job and got accepted to UBC’s accounting program in the fall. My doctor said I couldn’t go. I was devastated. It was the one thing I was really looking forward to this year.
I kept wondering why. I have good morals, and I’ve always worked hard. I’m a good person. I was optimistic the first time. And now it’s back. Germ Cell Tumor Ovarian Cancer affects one per cent of all cancers below the waist. There was no genetic predisposition and I had no family history of it. It really wasn’t preventable. I do wonder if it was work stress-induced though.
In which Hospital(s) are you treated? St. Paul’s (the first time). Now, I’m at the BC Cancer Agency as an out-patient.
What is your current medical status? Stage 1 Ovarian Cancer
How is life different for you now post diagnosis (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually)?
I’m trying to stay strong. My mom didn’t handle it very well. When I told her I was rediagnosed, all she did was scream at me telling me it was my fault. It was rough. We’ve worked passed it since. My friends and family are always here, and I’m still tough as nails. I don’t cry.
What is the toughest part of your challenge? My life on standby. My travels, my studies, my career, my summer.
What is the best part about having your challenge? My test. I know I’m the toughest girl I know.
What really motivates you to keep going while you are sick? The future. My boyfriend. Knowing that all this will pass, and we’ll be able to settle down and start a family one day. And knowing it could always be worse.
What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience? Listen to your body. I got sent home three times from the ER with a hemorrhaging ovary. And do your research. Understand what you’re doing, the drugs you’re taking and listen to how your body is reacting. I hate the steroid they give me, so I asked to lower/wean off my dosage. The doctors said ok.
What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now? How have they changed since before your diagnosis? Try to look forward. Chemo sucks but it’s temporary. The fatigue, the treatments, the hair loss. I can’t wait to get back to my life.
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? Live a mentally/spiritually healthy life. If I wasn’t so positive, things might have gone a different way.
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
If you did not attend a support group, why?
Immobility. First time surgery, this time chemo.
Do you think attending one would have helped you? I think being here at YACC helps. It’s nice to know there’s support a mouse click away.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada? How did it happen? I was just searching one night since I couldn’t make any support groups around my area.
What are your thoughts/feelings on Young Adult Cancer Canada? I think it’s necessary to show people they aren’t alone. It’s comforting knowing people have gone through similar experiences.