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Summer Interrupted: My Battle With Cancer

By Hannah Owen

My journey began on Friday, April 6, 2018, I was sitting in class just like I had done so many thousands of days before, when I noticed that the pain in my right elbow was bothering me more than it had on days previous to this one. Although I had noticed that occasionally I would get a pain in my elbow, I shrugged it off as nothing, figuring I had hit it on something. By the end of this day the pain would reach a new level of pain. I was sitting in the car waiting for my mom, and all of a sudden it hurt to even move my right arm. It felt like two bones were hitting against each other at the tip of my elbow and it was extremely painful. I noticed there was a faint discolored bruise and it hurt so bad that I just wanted to chop off my right arm! I explained to my parents how bad it hurt and the bruise made them also think I just bumped it on something.

A week went by and my right elbow started hurting me again but this time on the bottom part of my right elbow. Again, there was a faint discolored bruise. I finally asked my mom if I could go see my doctor, so we did.

On Monday, April 23, 2018, I went to go see my general doctor. My doctor ordered two x-rays, and the results showed nothing was significantly wrong. My doctor said, “I will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon.” My mom scheduled an appointment. The pain lasted for another week, and while waiting for my appointment with the Orthopedic Surgeon suddenly my elbow stopped hurting. Since the x-rays showed nothing was wrong, I was convinced I had just bumped it and I told my
my mom that my elbow wasn’t hurting me anymore. She asked me if she should cancel my orthopedic appointment, and I said yes.

This relief was short lived. The very next day my right elbow started hurting me again in the same spot: and the faint discolored bruise was back too. I started taking Tylenol and Ibuprofen to help with the pain. My mom hadn't cancelled the orthopedic appointment yet and together we agreed we should keep the appointment, no matter what happened.

On Monday, May 14, 2018, I went to see the orthopedic doctor. After examining the area of discomfort, she decided to order four more x-rays. The results came back, and again it still showed nothing was wrong. Well she said, “You have some options: 1. You get an MRI done. 2. You can go to Occupational Therapy first, and if it hurts during therapy then you get an MRI done. 3. You go to Occupational Therapy and if it doesn’t hurt you anymore then it was just pulled muscles. if the pain gets worse in the meantime, call us back.” My mom scheduled my OT appointment.

Well two days later, on Wednesday, May 16th, I was sitting on my couch doing my homework. When I put my pencil down, suddenly my right arm began to tingle and shake violently from my elbow down to my fingertips. Since that very moment; my arm hurt every single day.
It hurt to move it, to have the wind even blow on it, and it even hurt if I was just sitting doing nothing. The very next day my mom called my orthopedic doctor and told her what had happened.

The doctor was alarmed and said, “We need to schedule an MRI as soon as possible.” On Wednesday, May 23, 2018, I went for the MRI of my right elbow and they said, “We will call you back in two days with the results.” Little did I know that these next two days would be the last days of "normal" that I would experience.

On Friday, May 25, 2018, I came home after work and the pain was unbearable. I asked my parents if they got the results. Yes, they had.

My parents asked me to sit down and said to me, “The doctor said that he hates to do this over the phone because they have never meet us before. He said your daughter has abnormal bone marrow and we think she has Leukemia. You need to come in the next business day at 12:00 pm to the Oncology clinic.” We got this news before Memorial Day weekend.

Luekemia, it feels as bad to hear that word said to you as you would think it does. On the next Tuesday, May 29th, my mom informed the school what was happening, and all of my teachers excused me from my finals. This was a relief because I couldn’t write at all.

I went to school for two hours that day and left to go to the main campus of the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. When we got there, we met the doctor who had called us. He sent us directly to a lab to get my blood drawn, and then analyzed further for signs of leukemia.

After having blood drawn, we tried to stay occupied and went to have lunch at the Subway restaurant located on the hospital campus. After lunch we went back to the MACC unit (Oncology clinic), hoping to hear good news.

We went back to the exam room and the moment finally came for the doctor to deliver the results. He came in and said, “Well we have good and bad news. The good news is your daughter doesn't have Leukemia. The bad news is we still don’t know what it is and you’re going to have to get a bone biopsy done. If the pain gets worse, come back to the main campus because we still don’t know what is wrong.”

Although it was a relief to hear that I did not have Luekemia, it was so frustrating to still have no idea what was happening. In the meantime, the pain absolutely was getting worse. Not only was it more painful, my arm was really getting swollen. Tylenol and Ibuprofen wasn’t working for me anymore, and my mom called Oncology to tell them that nothing is working for my pain. Oncology prescribed me with morphine pills to take as needed. I needed them alright, and this powerful pain prescriptions barely kept the pain at a bearable level.

On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, I went in for my bone biopsy. The doctor that did my bone biopsy said, “We will call you back in a couple days.” Those words were becoming all too familiar at this point. They did call in a couple of days, and on Thursday, June 14, the Oncology doctor called; “You need to come in the next business day at 12:00 pm as we have the results.” Nothing for me would be the same after this day.

The very next day, on Friday, June 15, 2018, my Oncology doctor came in to the exam room with the news, “Your daughter has Mature B Cell Lymphoma Cancer of the bone. We believe it's just localized in her right elbow.” They went over all of the medicine that I was going to need to take and described the chemotherapy medicines they were going to give me.

Eventually a nurse came back in with a large binder.

(Continued on next page)

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