Thursday, October 27, 2016

Let Our Green Voices Shine


Our family blue Ford LTD drove in the school entrance. As my 6th-grade body leaned against a slender chocolate color pole. When the Ford circled the pickup lane, I stepped towards the edge of the curb. Mother’s hands gripped the stirring wheel as she drove us back to her workplace.

She parked and I grabbed my book bag. On one shoulder it draped as I walked in her workplace behind her. In the corner, I nested for a landing of homework while she finished a day's work.

In a swivel hairdresser chair across from mother’s station, her boss sat.

The week before mother told me, doctors diagnosed her boss with breast cancer. It was the first as a child my ears heard the words "cancer". My mind did not recognize the meaning. Until mother explained it the best she could.

We later left her workplace heading home for dinner with the family.

Months later, mother told us her boss fought the breast cancer leading into remission. Life carried on as usual. A short two years later, her cancer struck a second time. This time she peacefully lost her battle here on earth.

Since then, breast cancer awareness has grown and survival rates have increased.

Moving on years later, at the young at of 23, I was diagnosed with Fibrolamellar, a rare liver cancer. Of course mother’s boss was the first person I thought of and second death flashed in my face. My cancer was detected at an early stage during other medical concerns. Because of this, a resection was performed with no additional treatment and no reoccurrences -to date. This particular cancer is not usually found until it is too late. Meaning, once it has progressed, a liver resection is not a suggested treatment plan.

Fibrolamellar is one out of five types of liver cancer:

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC-hepatoma)
Fibrolamellar (rare type of HCC)
Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct)
Angiosarcoma (blood vessels of the liver)
Secondary liver cancer (liver metastasis, spread from other parts of the body)

Fibrolamellar is common in teens and young adults. 1 in 5,000,000 are diagnosed with as little as 1,000 each year worldwide. Fibrolamellar was first detected in the early 1950’s and named by John Craig, MD. Dr. Craig currently is on the board of directors of the Fibrolamellar Foundation. So few are diagnosed most have not heard of it. Even in some towns medical personnel have not. Families have traveled far from home, even moved states, to seek treatment with doctors familiar with Fibrolamellar.

Most are not aware, Liver Cancer and Breast Cancer awareness both share the month of October. 

Each October the liver cancer community is a tiny crumb of green on a chopping block of pink. It is not about toning down the pink. More about spicing up the green letting others hear our voices too. There is no need for a green wash out of soup cans, mixers, etc. Yet, the acknowledgment, our lives matter too. Until our voices are heard, effective treatment plans and early detection plans will stay non-existing. I speak on behalf of all liver cancer types, there is more to life than “think pink”.

Because I am a member of a Fibrolamellar group, I witness others lose their battle. This year alone, we have lost the most from our small group. Husbands, wives, moms, dads and siblings say goodbye until eternity.

The scar etched between my breasts to my belly button is only a physical marking of my cancer journey. The emotional pain no matter if I cram it in the back cobwebby corner of my mind it still surfaces. It does not go away. Similar to if you lost a parent or a child, fought in a war, or suffered another type of traumatic event. It’s part of my life story. It reminds me to speak up. Not to turn a blind eye on you or me, nor our families -future generations. Even on the hard days, I do not want to share or days panic attacks from old emotions flare posttraumatic waves.

My dreaming passion is one day there will be better detection and treatment plans for all liver cancers. Just like there has been over the years for breast cancer and other types of cancers.

Therefore, I leave with you these words “think green,” “think liver cancer awareness” too this October. 

Let us fight for all. Honor. Support. Advocate.

Let us shine a ray of hope in the cancer community together. 




This October, banners like such, were hand created by Ashley for Facebook profiles.

Portions of this blog post were published earlier this month on ihadcancer.com

Join Ashley's silent art auction this month as she raises money for liver cancer research.

“You are the world’s seasoning, to make it tolerable. If you lose your flavor, what will happen to the world? And you yourselves will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:13-16

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