Reaching out to a Community of Support

Welcome to Jennifer’s Carelines page! Thank you for coming to support Jennifer in her journey of recovery. Here you can:

My cancer journey began last fall during my last year of nursing school and during the COVID-19 pandemic – September 16, 2020, to be exact!!  My husband noticed a lump on my chest and pushed me to get it checked.  I made a doctor's appointment and, after some tests, I left and tried to move ahead with my day.  My PCP called me personally and told me I needed to see an Oncologist ASAP.  I feel blessed to have been referred to Dr. Stillwell at Lexington Oncology and to have received some great care from the nurses and staff at Lexington Medical Center.  I could not have gotten through these treatments without the love and support from my family and friends!!  My husband and I were overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support we received last year and continue to receive this year.     

After an agonizing wait of what felt like months (but was closer to two weeks!), we finally received my diagnosis of Mediastinal Large B-cell Lymphoma, a rare form of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  I've never been more scared in my life.  I've also never been more committed to doing all the work required to get better.  I needed 6 inpatient chemotherapy treatment cycles (5-day hospital stays for each cycle) and 30 radiation treatments after chemotherapy.  I found myself stuck in a hospital bed as a patient instead of starting my clinical rotation as a student nurse. 

My husband and the rest of my family had concerns about me continuing with school while I fought cancer, but I knew I needed it.  Imagine being stuck in a room receiving chemotherapy.  You feel like hell.  No visitors, outside of two hours, because of COVID.  That is a lot of time to sit all alone.  I needed something to focus on.  I needed work to distract me.  Nursing school gave me something to keep my mind occupied that was not cancer-related.  I needed that.

After treatment ended in April 2021, things started looking up.  My first CT scan after treatment looked promising.  In August, I graduated nursing school and was about to accept a position on an Oncology floor at a local hospital… then my biggest fear became reality.  While rubbing my shoulders, my husband found a new lump.  The cancer was not gone.  What. A. Blow.  A full year of stress, pain, and anxiety to get through the first diagnosis and it came back.  I don't think I have ever been angrier in my life.  WHY ME???  Why is this happening AGAIN??  I did everything that was asked of me and my family, even when it was really difficult.  I was just getting back to some sort of normalcy.

Heck, some good actually came from the experience, though.  I started nursing school later than normal (second oldest in my class), in part because I had resisted the call of nursing in pursuit of other goals.  Once I finally made the decision and nearly completed the journey, cancer happened, and I have now been exposed to the other side of nursing.  I previously had no interest in Oncology; however, this experience has changed my perspective.  Now I feel like I will be a better Oncology nurse after experiencing cancer.  It feels to me like I have been put through this journey precisely to become an Oncology nurse. 

More tests were done at my Oncologist's office.  The results of these tests were that I have a 10% chance of this type of cancer returning after treatment.  So, next steps... After some talks with my Oncologist, she referred me to a Lymphoma specialist and a new care team at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).  They provided a plan and regimen to get this taken care of and get me into remission.  So, for the past few months, I have been traveling two hours each way for chemo appointments and other appointments for Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT) transplant clearance.

In less than a month, I will have to be in Charleston for six weeks to undergo a Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT) transplant to rid myself of this cancer once and for all!!  I have been very positive and optimistic in the past year, but I have to say my anxiety is through the roof right now!!  I am very anxious and scared about how this will all work out.  Too many unknowns and not enough answers.  Not only the transplant itself but the financial burden of finding a place for me and my family to stay during and after the transplant has been difficult and quite expensive.  I cannot express the gratitude I have for my family and friends who have supported me this past year.  I couldn't have gotten through any of this without you guys – YOU ARE AMAZING!!  This has been such a physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially draining experience for me and my family.  I haven't been able to work in 15 months due to cancer treatments.  We have been relying on my husband's income and generosity of family and friends since last fall.  We are the last ones to ever ask for help but we could really use it right now.  Any and all donations are greatly appreciated along with positive thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement.

Thank you,

Jennifer Sawyer and my loving family

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