Meet Double Major- Kaity Kasper
Name: Kaity Kasper
Age at Enrollment: 23 - Hodgkins Lymphoma; 37 - Ovarian Cancer
Majors: See above
What were the primary symptoms you experienced prior to diagnosis? Hodgkins: Night sweats, extreme fatigue, two unexplained swollen lymphnodes. Ovarian: I was already diagnosed with the BRCA1 mutation. Because of that, when I started having slight pains in the abdomen, I checked in with my doctor. No real symptoms though (as per most gynecological cancers), but by the time I had surgery the pain was much greater and I had bloating as well.
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor? Hodgkins - Ongoing swollen lymphnode (it still took 8 months to be diagnosed, though). Ovarian - Overlapping with my seeking care for abdominal pains, another physician found fluid on my routine breast MRI film, which sped up diagnosis significantly.
Courses Completed: Hodgkins - surgery, chemo, radiation. Ovarian - surgery and chemotherapy which was unsuccessful. I then put my cancer into remission utilizing alternative therapies (energy work, acupuncture, supplements, yoga, meditation, and dietary changes)
What was your hardest moment (or moments) and how did you you get through it/them? The hardest moments for me were discovering the people who would not be able to walk this road with me. Cancer is one of those life situations that shows us the true nature of our relationships and, unfortunately, at times that can be a painful discovery. I also struggled in the month when I was told that chemotherapy did not work and had to make the difficult choice of undergoing additional chemotherapy or taking an alternative route. Looking our mortality in the eyes is never easy, but it felt particularly difficult in the wake of six difficult rounds of a clinical trial.
Any helpful (tangible) tips or tricks you discovered for dealing with your symptoms and/or cancer? I gave myself permission to do nothing at all when I needed to. I am usually very driven and do not take time to rest. I let go of any expectations of myself other than doing what needed to be done for my treatment. I found foods that I knew I could nibble on throughout the days following chemotherapy and had no expectations that they be "healthy" (potatoes worked well for me as did plain pasta). A friend would also make me wonderful flavored water with lemons and cucumbers to help me stay hydrated on my most nauseated days.
How did you find joy during this experience? My puppy, Hope, brought me great joy. She was a gift during chemotherapy and her cuddles and sweet nature got me through many rough days. I also found joy in quiet time spent on the couch with girlfriends who were happy to come just sit with me. We forget how good a girlfriend sleepover can be once we "grow up" and I found much joy in having an excuse to have them again.
Did you learn anything about yourself? If so, what was it? Oh my goodness - where do I start? I learned that I am more powerful than I ever imagined. I learned that my faith will carry me further than I ever imagined. I learned that I am far more than my physical appearance, and that people in my world will love me regardless of how I look.