Rabeeya Bedassie

Before diagnosis, I was a person who was constantly on-the-go, getting everything done as soon as I woke up. I would get up at 5:30am, trek my way downstairs to workout for an hour, then be on my way to work, bright and early. My family and I had always lived a fairly active lifestyle and ate healthy diets, as my son also has nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disorder. I had never smoked in my lifetime, so it was a total shock when I found out I had Stage 2 lung cancer. But believe it or not, this was actually my second cancer diagnosis.

In March 2020, I went for a routine annual check-up and had bloodwork done to test my ESR levels, which had become routine after I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer 25 years prior. That diagnosis was what pushed me to live a healthier lifestyle, and I’ve been healthy for the 25 years in between. However this time around, my physician saw that my ESR levels came back almost double the normal levels, which led them to think I had an infection. I was referred to an internal medicine doctor, who again tested my ESR levels; it was now triple the normal levels, which was extremely concerning, and he knew there was something was going on. I was sent for a CT scan, which found a 1cm spot along with 2 smaller masses that were 6mm and 8mm, all in the upper lobe of my lung. After a biopsy confirmed they were malignant cells, I had surgery to remove a portion of my upper lobe where the cancer was. During surgery, however, my doctor found another cancerous mass in the lower lobe, which had now progressed me from stage 1 to stage 2 adenocarcinoma of the lung. 

After surgery, I started chemotherapy. I never imagined it was possible for a human being to be so weak, but I really had an incredible support system as my husband and son were constantly helping me out. But after my 2nd round of chemotherapy, I suffered a major arterial stroke, which was worse than the chemotherapy. I was hospitalized for 2 weeks and had numerous CT and MRI scans, which showed a clot in my neck and small brain bleed that affected my ability to use or move my arm. The stroke was incredibly debilitating and felt even worse than the chemotherapy. After being released from the hospital, I was on blood thinners for another 6 months while also continuing chemotherapy and physiotherapy, which shrunk the clots but was incredibly difficult. Having a support system when faced with such insurmountable challenges was what got me through.

The one thing I really want to share with everyone is “don’t give up”. I wanted to give up at many points during my journey, but my husband was extremely supportive and motivating and told me, “you can’t give up, this is not who you are. God gave you two hands, if you can’t use one, you can still use the other”. I was so shaken, but my family continued to pray for me when I felt so helpless. Sure enough, I cried when I noticed I was slowly regaining mobility of my hand again. For me, this was the ultimate motivator that I needed to continue working harder than ever in my recovery and treatment. I was so happy and continued to persevere. I’ve now regained most of my function in my hand. I can’t do everything, but it’s OK, because I know I’m very lucky. For everyone reading this, things will get better. You will get better. Even when I wanted to give up myself, my family never gave up on me and God never gave up on me. As of October 2021, it’s been one year since my last chemo treatment, and I’m happy to say I’m on the road to a full recovery.