On January 10, a great and wonderful friend of many years sent me a message about a dress. This happened right after I called off the gown search, as I had more than my 26 needed. I had imagined early on that each gown would come with a touching story of happiness or possibly a story of hatred and betrayal. Either way, as marriage goes, there surely would be a story to tell. That didn’t quite work out with most of them, but there are a special few that tell a tale that touches the heart. This gown would trump all others… Here is April’s request…” Hey babe!! What’s up? I know that you said you have all your dresses but I was in a wedding 2 weeks ago and the bride is willing to donate the dress….Ok so here is the only catch. Not so much of a catch really. I want to make sure that you really want to use it. Jorie has terminal cancer and I want to make sure her dress either goes on a journey of a lifetime(I think that would be amazing!) or if not then she can donate it to a cancer charity. Let me know what you are thinking!!! “Once I talked with April and heard her story and read through her blog, I was left in tears. At least prior to the hike, it wasn’t all that often that saddness was able to creep into my often hard shell and produce the water works. I’m not always goo.d at telling the tale of others, so I’m going to ask you to take some time out of your day and read about Jorie. The following is page one of her Blog… Jorie was married back in January, and happily donated her beautiful gown to hiking26, and per April’s request, I decided the only great thing I knew to do, was to take it along as I summit Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States. The beautiful gown, a size 30 was altered a bit, and remains one of the most beautiful I’ll have the opportunity to wear on the Pacific Crest Trail. I just hope I can do it justice with a photo that matches the magnitude of Jorie’s story…. It will likely be more than a week before I wear this gown, it is currently on it’s way to Kennedy Meadows (Inyokern, CA) which we thru-hikers consider the portal to the rough, possibly wintery conditions of the Sierra Nevadas. I don’t expect to have internet service there, so this will give you time to catch up and know about Jorie, her tumors, and her new born family before I begin the climb to take her gown all the way to the top.”Have you ever known what it’s like to wake up one morning with your mortality staring you straight in the face? I have and let me be the first to tell you that it is not a pleasant experience. Like most twenty-something year olds, I thought I was just a little bit invincible. And then…
Imagine standing in the shower one morning and running your fingers through your hair…wait…what is that? That bump on the top of your head…it wasn’t there yesterday. It’s actually quite large. You don’t remember hitting your head…did you do it in your sleep? Is it some mutant mosquito bite? No, this wasn’t a bad joke, I actually woke up with that bump on the top of my head one morning. All I could think at the time was “Thank God I have thick enough hair to cover this bump up until I can get to the doctor!” So off to the doctor I went. I was soooo relieved when the doctor told me that all I had was a sebaceous cyst and that I needed to make an appointment with a dermatologist to have it ruptured. All right! Problem solved! Wait…what? The dermatologist can’t see me for two months? Well…I guess that’s ok. I mean, it’s not like the cyst is going to go anywhere, right?
Fast forward two months. Have you ever had a panic attack? Well, on Januray 17, 2010 I thought I was having my very first one. I had a headache that just wouldn’t quit and my heart felt like it was beating for an entire football team. And on top of that I just could not seem to catch my breath. So, off to the emergency room I went.
Well, you know that sebaceous cyst that I was talking about earlier? The one that I was waiting to see the dermatologist about? Well, one MRI and CT scan later, it was NOT a sebaceous cyst! What was it, you ask? It was a tumor. And not just any tumor. It was a tumor that started in my cranial cavity and had grown so much that it actually broke through my skull and was now continuing to grow outside of the skull. It was pushing down on my brain and was occluding the blood flow to my brain. Nice, right? Wrong! Here came the mental breakdown. I was 29 years old and tumor was not a word that I ever thought I would hear in my lifetime. But wait, it gets better. Several weeks and many more tests and procedures later, revealed that I had another tumor in my abdomen and cancer. I had a very rare form of cancer known a Malignant Paraganglioma and Pheochromocytoma. This meant that not only did I have two cancerous tumors in my body, but that they were releasing dangerous amounts of epinephrine that were causing a plethora of side effects and would complicate surgery.
In February 2010, I underwent a six hour brain surgery to remove the tumor from my head and a large portion of the surrounding skull that had become infected during an earlier biopsy. The surgery was a huge success and I experienced no complications or negative side-effects. I was told that the missing portion of my skull would be replaced with synthetic bone during a later surgery and I was discharged 3 days later with my super nifty protective helmet in hand. I have now been home and skull-less for one month and I am preparing to readmit to the hospital tomorrow for my abdominal surgery which will take place on April 1, 2010.
This is my story. I am a 29 year old woman battling cancer and trying to do it with flair and a sense of humor. I am willing to share my story with the world because I hope that someday someone else may benefit from it. Here are all my tears and laughs, and my joys and pains. This is my story. ”
Read More of Jorie’s touching story on her blog. http://cancerhottie.blogspot.com/