Cancer Survivor Spotlight: Paula Shares her Story to Help Others
Posted on October 28 2014
The month of October, Wink is committed to helping cancer survivors by donating product, to help regrow eyebrow and eyelashes after chemotherapy. Below read the story of one survivor touched by Wink.
It was supposed to be a happy time. Paula and her husband Alan were excited having just had a positive pregnancy test at the doctor’s office. Paula was instructed to go home, and come back in a month for another check-up. As any expectant parents would: they celebrated, they called family and friends. This was good news.
After four weeks, Paula was not feeling well. Her energy was low, and she had a hard time balancing work and school. Before that next doctor check-up, Paula’s symptoms got so bad, and she went to the Emergency Room.
Finally, after waiting, the results came back: Molar Pregnancy (Gestational Trophoblastic Disease). Rather than an embryo forming in the uterus, a cluster of cells had started to develop. That formation had mimicked the symptoms of pregnancy. And just like that, Paula wasn’t pregnant. Her own body had tricked her.
After having a surgical procedure to remove the cluster of cells, Paula and Alan headed home, thinking that this might all be behind them.
Paula had to continue to have her blood tested for hormones that would indicate if she had additional cell clusters growing. Her numbers kept going down, which is good news, until the numbers started to climb again. With the rise in her hormone levels, Paula’s doctor called to let her know that she would need to see an oncologist to have chemotherapy. This meant cancer. How did things escalate from a false positive pregnancy test to chemotherapy?!?
While her doctor reassured her that it would be only a single chemotherapy treatment a week, Paula could continue her normal schedule of work and school – the chemotherapy would not interrupt her normal life.
With family visiting from Brazil a few weeks later, Paula began to experience heavy bleeding, and her mother rushed her to the ER again. Another cluster of cells was found, another procedure to remove them.
While her brother and his wife traveled back to Brazil, Paula’s mother stayed until they could learn more about exactly what was happening. After a CT scan, an MRI and more testing, the oncologist had more bad news: Not only had the cancer spread to 10 lesions on her lungs, Paula would now require inpatient chemotherapy. And full chemotherapy side effects, like her hair falling out. Paula cried that day, but for the last time.
After a week filled with concerts, great food and fun adventures, Paula started her chemotherapy. She approached her treatments with a positive outlook, and was blessed that her symptoms were not as intense as they could have been.
After three months, three surgeries, twelve chemotherapy sessions, over two dozen blood tests, and multiple chest and brain scans, Paula went back to her oncologist for another scan of her lungs. August 25, 2014 was a day to celebrate. While her lungs were exactly clear, (spots showing on scans could have been lesions or scar tissue from the lesions), her doctor gave her news that she was waiting to hear: She no longer needed chemotherapy treatments. She still needs to continue to monitor her hormone levels, and additional scans down the line to check her lungs.
“One of the hardest things for us [cancer patients] is looking at the mirror and not seeing our old selves anymore,” Paula told Wink team members. “As much as I’m ok with all that has happened to me, I still miss my old "me" sometimes!”
Paula now uses her story to share with others, giving us all a glimpse into her story of survival, through her blog ByPaulie.com. Paula kept a positive outlook, and relied on her faith to get her through the tough times. Despite having to stop working, and ultimately give up her opportunity at two prestigious baking internships, Paula is still positive, knowing that her toughest days are behind her.
Wink is proud to support cancer survivors, like Paula, as they face life after the big C. During the month of October, for each bottle sold, Wink is donating a bottle to a cancer survivor. Paula is one of survivors impacted by our October donations.
Be sure to check out Paula’s blog on “Cancer, food and laughs” to keep up to date on her health, along with some yummy recipes!