One of the hardest things of dealing with my diagnosis is the pain and the emotional side that comes along with it.
Hello, my name is Ashley Della Pelle, and I am the mother to three beautiful children: Adalena who is four years old, Audrey who is three years old, and Andrew who is eight months old. I am married to my husband Andrew; we have been married for seven years!
After I had my son Andrew, I started to experience a lot of back pain. At first, I thought it was related to my c-section, but after the pain continued to get worse and multiple doctor visits of no help at all, I started to get really scared. My PCP was one of the most useless doctors I have ever met. I went to him multiple times begging for x-rays, MRIs and blood work to be done and said that my back pain was not stress related. He refused to do any of these tests because I just had a baby, and he said my hormones would throw it off. Towards the end, he told me that I had used all my resources with him and that he could no longer help me.
On November 14, 2018, I went into a local emergency room for my back pain. The first step the doctor did was take an x-ray. After the x-ray, the doctor came back and told me that I have seven compression fractures to my spine. The doctor ordered an MRI and blood work immediately. The doctor thought that she saw blast in my back from my MRI, and my blood work scores were through the roof. She was confident that I had cancer, but with this being a smaller hospital, she could not properly treat me here, so I was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital.
When we got to the hospital, we ended up having to stay in the emergency room for 23 hours before we went up to the cancer floor. When we were finally admitted to floor nine, that is when everything started to become really real that I had cancer. They had to perform multiple tests to confirm what type of cancer I had. They did a bone marrow biopsy, a breast biopsy due to the fact that I had a tumor in my breast, an MRI, and a ton of blood work.
After about one week of waiting for answers on what type of cancer I had, the doctor came into the room and finally had the answer for us. I was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. This cancer is very rare to find in adults as it is normally only found in children under the age of nine; this is a pediatric cancer. My doctor told me that my cancer had started in my right sinus, traveled to my left sinus, then to lymph nodes, and all the bones in my body. He told me that my cancer is so bad, that I am in stage four, that my cancer cannot be cured, and it is terminal.
My doctor was going to start me right away on a chemotherapy called VAC treatment, which is a very aggressive chemo. The goal of the chemo is to keep my cancer from spreading. I will have to do chemo every three weeks for the rest of my life, as well as radiation. For my life expectancy, I was told that the worst case on chemo is I would live four to six months, and the best case is I would live two years.
This news is absolutely heartbreaking to my family and me. I would give anything to have more time with my family. I am currently searching for a clinical trial that could help save my life. One of the hardest things of dealing with my diagnosis is the pain and the emotional side that comes along with it. I hope everyone enjoyed reading my story!
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