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Ashley Brooks (Liver Cancer Survivor)

Ashley Brooks (Liver Cancer Survivor)

I was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer at 2. I am a full-time nursing student at Barry University. I had my last surgery when I was five years old. I was in remission for five years. After remission, I was also diagnosed with depression in high school. Initially, I had jaundice which was later detected as stage 3 liver cancer after Biopsy. I underwent surgical removal of the Gallbladder and underwent 18 months of chemotherapy. God and the women in Church were my support system. Summing up my journey, I say, Thank you, God.


When I was diagnosed, I was a toddler, and from what my parents had told me, my initial symptom was jaundice. When my parents saw yellow in my eyes and skin, they took me to the doctor. The initial diagnosis was a liver infection; they gave me some antibiotics and took me home, and when my mom took me to the same doctor two weeks later, they did a biopsy. They told my parents about Liver cancer, and it has already progressed to early-stage three liver cancer. I was very tired, so when my parents took me to the hospital, my mother had to carry me in her arms because I couldn't walk on my own and couldn't do anything. I also had a lump on my abdomen and terrible stomach pain.


I underwent surgical removal of my Gallbladder. I had 18 months of chemotherapy with a mix of antibiotics around May of the following year; that's when I finished my chemo. I also had a port put in on the right side of my chest. The port goes straight to the superior vena cava, and that's where I get all the medication for chemo.


I was so young, so I don't remember much. I remember my port being taken out when I was 5, which wasn't the best experience. I couldn't play out in the sun as there were chances of getting infected. It was challenging to keep the port clean. It was a traumatic experience, especially when it poked out when I wore a dress or shirt so the other kids would probably notice. I received counseling at the age of 11 because chemo destroyed my hearing and hair. 


A little boy named Scotty was diagnosed with leukemia when I was two years old. They were one of the first recipients of an organization called "friends with kids with cancer". My life specialist at the hospital started that organization. They had parties and fashion shows. So, it was excellent for me to be around other kids struggling with cancer. I used to attend those parties. Scotty had a leukemia relapse as a Brain tumour, and he passed away. After he died, depression hit me because he was my support system. I stopped going to my oncologist and felt angry. I then found another support group called "American childhood organization" They do many things for cancer survivors, and I found a lot of friends who were breast cancer survivors. I also volunteer with the American cancer society, focusing on the legal aspects of cancer, like passing specific bills and laws.

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