Through My Eyes: What it’s Like to be a Young Adult supporting a Loved One With Cancer

Through My Eyes is a series in which those affected by childhood cancer share a behind-the-scenes look into what it’s like to be in their shoes.  Read every perspective. Become aware and donate to help create solutions for kids fighting rare pediatric cancer. 

Corey is fighting relapsed stage 4 Ewing’s sarcoma at 20 years old. Being diagnosed with cancer has taught Corey to enjoy every part of life, because tomorrow is not promised.  Corey proposed to his girlfriend Blythe on August 5th, 2019. She said yes.

There is no worse feeling in the world than for someone you love to be suffering from cancer. You want to fix it.  Make it go away. But all you can do is love them. Blythe was featured on our social channels (Instagram & Facebook) on 9/13/19 to share her fears, her frustration and the thoughts going through her head and heart as she supports the one she chooses forever with.

I Choose Forever

“When Corey was first diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2018 we had only been dating for two weeks.  As awful as it sounds, I didn’t know if I was supposed to stay with him. I didn’t think I was strong enough to go through everything. Meanwhile, I knew that I truly did care about him.  I decided to stay… no matter what happened. 

On the other hand, I knew I was terrified of losing him. I thought that Corey was going to end things with me because he wouldn’t want to put me through everything that comes with cancer. Or that he would think that I would not want him because he was sick. That was not what I wanted. I was even more afraid Corey was going to die… he wasn’t in the best physical state. 

When Corey was first diagnosed I barely knew his family. As a matter of fact, I had only met them a handful of times. I had no idea where my boundaries stood with him and his cancer. Would I get on their nerves visiting the hospital everyday? Should I visit every day… was that my place? Did they like me? 

I sat with him in the hospital every day with anxiety covering every inch of my body from the moment I got there in the morning until the moment I left at night.”

There is no worse feeling in the world than for someone you love to be suffering from cancer. You want to fix it.  Make it go away. But all you can do is love them. Today, Blythe shares her perspective. She shares her fears, her frustration and the thoughts going through her head and heart as she supports the one she chooses forever with.

One Day at a Time

“I’m lost at what the next steps are in Corey’s treatment. At the moment we have no certainty in what’s going to happen next. I am the type of person who likes to have a plan, but with cancer… there isn’t a plan. Sure the doctors might have their “plan” but that has no guarantee. With cancer things change all the time. 

At the beginning… Corey’s treatment was supposed to take 9 months to a year. That changed very quickly because he could not even meet the platelet requirements in time for his second treatment.  Treatments moved out to every three weeks. Eventually, treatments had to be moved out even more. Now we are to the point where we have no idea when he will receive treatment based on weeks. 

A curveball was thrown to us in July when we found out that Corey relapsed. Within less than an hour of being readmitted to the hospital and this diagnosis, Corey began to lose feeling in his legs due to the new lesion on his spinal cord. Corey had surgery to remove that tumor the next day. 

After this surgery Corey temporarily lost the ability to walk and the use of his bladder. The doctors set a new plan, but we still don’t have a timeline.  We still truly do not know what is next. 

I have had to learn to take things one day at a time.”

I Watch the Good. Bad. Ugly.

“I’m with Corey most days, I see everything. I detect the aggravation in his face when he can no longer do the things he once could. I witness his friends not inviting him to do things because he can’t stay out as late as them. I notice the exhaustion that swallows him up even though he tells you he isn’t a bit tired. I observe part of his confidence being ripped away as his hair falls out. I look at the tears that roll down his cheek as he worries about the results from the MRI and bone marrow test that we will receive the next day. I view his frustration as he can no longer remember the things he once could. I see the pain that covers his body after the surgery that was necessary to save his life. 

On the other hand, I look at the joy in his face when he gets to go home after a long hospital stay. I listen to him talk about all the things he has to look forward to. I see his excitement when he gets new parts for his truck. I stare at the thrill that is brought to him by watching the Carolina Panthers play. I view his passion for hunting as the season rolls around.  I spot the smilies his dog, Stella brings into his life. I recognize the hope that is brought to him through cards people send. I admire his determination to beat cancer. 

I watch the good. I watch the bad. I watch the ugly.”

No Timeline

I’m lost at what to do and where to go to school. When Corey was originally diagnosed with cancer in November I was attending East Carolina University, ECU, as a Nursing Major. ECU is approximately 4 hours away so when Corey got sick I decided to finish the semester and come home. I figured it would be best because I missed a total of 3 weeks his first hospital stay. I wanted the ability to be with him and support him day in and day out throughout this journey. When I returned home I enrolled in our local community college to work on my Associates in Science so I wouldn’t get behind and could transfer to a University when all this was done with. Here I am in my sophomore year and I have no clue what to do about school. I have no idea if I should go back to a four year college and receive my BSN or whether to stay at a two year and get my RN. 

I have no idea what to do because we have no timeline.”

I’m Lost

 “I’m lost in when we should get married. In August Corey and I got engaged. We have people ask us all the time if we have set a date. Well that’s a good question… but the answer is no. I hate being asked this question because I don’t know what date to set. 

You can’t plan a wedding when you don’t know what will happen. I have no idea what date to set because we don’t have specific dates for treatment or can’t predict what days Corey is going to feel good or feel bad. Even more, I don’t know when Corey will be back to work. For all I know Corey could die, as hard as it is for me to say… it’s true. Then I would be left with a venue, a photographer, a cake, a dress, and everything else on that day with no one to use it with. 

That thought frightens me… setting a date and not having Corey there for it.

This could happen to you or your child.  We were normal teenagers one day and the next we were dealing with cancer.  Do not think for a minute it will not be you because it can be in the blink of an eye. Never in a million years did I think our life would be the way it is right now.”

19 years old. She’s scared and lost. But she fights alongside Corey to help him stay positive. Childhood cancer affects not only the children and young adults fighting for their lives, but those fighting next to them.  Thank you to Blythe for her honesty. It’s real. It’s raw… just like childhood cancer. Are you aware now?

DONATE

All photos/videos courtesy of Blythe. 

*** THROUGH MY EYES: THIS IS CHILDHOOD CANCER SERIES

9/2: We Have Stopped Making You Aware

9/3: Through My Eyes: This is Childhood Cancer 

9/3: Through My Eyes: What Cancer Leaves Behind

9/4: Through My Eyes: Day In the Life Of Kellie Andrew, Warrior Mom Fighting to Save Her Child From Neuroblastoma

9/5: Through My Eyes: Behind the Scenes with Aaron Plummer, Dad to RhabdomyosarcomaWarrior

9/6: Through My Eyes: What My Child About Cancer, What Really Scares This Cancer Mom

9/8: Through My Eyes: Week 1 Results

9/9: Through My Eyes: Behind the Mind of a Teenager Fighting Cancer & Social Anxiety

9/11: Through My Eyes: What It’s Like to be a Young Adult Living With Cancer

Through My Eyes: What It’s Like To Be a Young Adult Living With Cancer

Through My Eyes is a series in which those affected by childhood cancer share a behind-the-scenes look into what it’s like to be in their shoes.  Read every perspective. Become aware and donate to help create solutions for kids fighting rare pediatric cancer. 

  • Perspective: Young Adult
  • Name:  Corey Morgan, 20 years-old
  • Cancer: Stage 4 Ewings Sarcoma, relapsed
  • Diagnosed:  November 2018, relapsed July 2019
  • Interests: Fishing, Hunting, Carolina Panthers football
  • Feels:  Unlucky

Corey was featured on our social channels (Instagram & Facebook) on 9/11/19 to share what it’s like to be a young adult living with cancer.  Learn how his life has changed, what keeps him strong and what cancer has taught him.

 “It was a pain I had never felt before. I had pain in my bones, in my knees, ankles, back, elbows, even in my jaw. I had pain everywhere.  It hurt so bad I could hardly move or even talk.”

Corey’s pain lead to the discovery of stage 4 ewings sarcoma in November 2018 at 19 years old. He was diagnosed with a primary tumor on his adrenal gland, which was surgically removed and he started chemotherapy.  In July 2019, the pain returned and a tumor was found on his back pressing on his spinal cord. When this tumor was surgically removed, Corey temporarily lost his ability to walk and use his bladder. More tumors were found on his left arm, sacrum (which is part of the back), ribs and pelvis. Corey has undergone radiation and currently waiting for what the next step in his cancer treatment plan will be. 

Losing Control

“It’s difficult when your body won’t do things it used to do.  It’s even more difficult when you lose control over it. Losing the ability to walk was the hardest. I even lost control of my bladder. 

Cancer changed my ability to do most of my favorite things.  My absolute favorite thing is hunting. I like fishing. I also like to work on stuff with my friends, like fixing something that broke on a vehicle or working on four-wheeler or just about anything we can get our hands on. I like riding four- wheelers and I love diesel trucks (Ford in particular!).  

Since being diagnosed with cancer I’m not able to hardly do any of that, especially not alone. My body just can’t do those things… I physically can’t or I’m no longer strong enough. Just the other day my dad and friends had to fix the steps on a deer stand to make it easier for me to get in and out easier. Every time I would go fishing on my boat someone would have to be with me in order to load the boat back.  I can’t ride four wheelers due to the risk of wrecking or somehow getting hurt. 

But the biggest thing cancer has changed is my ability to work.   It sucks being stuck at home as a young adult, not able to make money and live the dream life I wanted to. I’m not able to buy a house and move out. I’m not able to take the next big step with my fiancé that we would love to do. There is nothing that I once was able to do that I do exactly the same.

Cancer changed my ability to be independent like other young adults.”

My Rock

“She is the reason I get out of bed in the morning. She’s the reason I continue to keep a positive outlook on life. Blythe is the reason I still fight! 

After I was diagnosed I never expected her to stick around since we were so young and still have so much life to live. But she did and that’s when I knew she was the one. She has given up just as much as I’ve had to just to be with me. She has given up most of her social life, where she wants to go to school, her family time and the biggest thing… she has given up her freedom. We don’t get to run around wherever we want like most teenagers are able to. We can’t go out with friends like we once could because I’m not able to do a lot of things they can. 

She’s been right by my side through it all. The good the bad, everything! It means the world to me to know that I always have her to be here for me! Blythe gives me hope, every time I get down or feel like giving up she’s right there to bring me back up! 

Cancer hasn’t been all bad for us, as crazy as that may sound!  I believe it has brought us closer and has helped show us a different kind of love that not everyone gets to experience. And the fact that we get to experience it at such a young age is amazing. 

I was lucky enough to to propose to Blythe August 5th 2019… it was probably the greatest moment of my life. To finally get to call her my fiancé meant everything to me and makes me the happiest person in the world.  Blythe is my world!”

Daily Decisions

Everything in Corey’s life quickley became about what doctor to see next, labs, and transfusions.  Daily decisions look different too. Before being diagnosed with cancer, decisions would include who to go fishing with over the weekend and where to watch the Panther’s football game.

As a young adult over 18 with cancer, Corey now has decisions to make like what is being discussed here… who he wants to grant as his power of attorney. Decisions no 19 year old should have to make.

What Cancer Has Taught Me

I never would’ve imagined it would happen to me, but it did. I was a normal teenager living my life… the next thing I know I’m laying in a hospital fighting for my life and leaving there not remembering anything about those 2 long weeks.  I felt unlucky. I was finally becoming a young adult, becoming a little more independent and not having to rely on my parents as much. I felt unlucky because everyone always asked “why me?”, and that’s exactly how I have felt for the longest time. I’m not able to do things that I at one time I took for granted. 

I finally realized that we can’t control what cards we are dealt, so just enjoy what you have because someone always has it worse.

Being diagnosed with cancer has taught me to enjoy every part of life. Tomorrow is not promised, things can change in the blink of an eye. So never take anything for granted, soak up everything life has to offer, make the most out of everything you go through.

Love and enjoy time with your family, your friends, girlfriend, boyfriend, whoever it may be! My family has been great through this whole process… taking time off work, paying bills and doing everything they can to take care of me! Not only just my mom, dad, sister and fiancé. But my grandma, aunt and uncle, cousins, and friends. If it wasn’t for all of them helping out we wouldn’t be where we are right now! 

Live in the present and not the future, and take things day by day! Life is much more enjoyable that way!”

Corey turned 20 on September 1st and cancer abruptly opened his eyes to the more serious aspects of life… maybe even before he was ready. But he accepts the reality and chooses to enjoy life. Enjoy the small moments, be present and cheer on those Carolina Panthers. His positive outlook is simply inspiring… we hope it will make you stop and think. It did for us. Take a few minutes to read his perspective. It’s real. It’s raw… just like childhood cancer. Are you aware now?

DONATE

All photos/videos courtesy of Corey’s family. 

*** THROUGH MY EYES: THIS IS CHILDHOOD CANCER SERIES

9/2: We Have Stopped Making You Aware

9/3: Through My Eyes: This is Childhood Cancer 

9/3: Through My Eyes: What Cancer Leaves Behind

9/4: Through My Eyes: Day In the Life Of Kellie Andrew, Warrior Mom Fighting to Save Her Child From Neuroblastoma

9/5: Through My Eyes: Behind the Scenes with Aaron Plummer, Dad to RhabdomyosarcomaWarrior

9/6: Through My Eyes: What My Child About Cancer, What Really Scares This Cancer Mom

9/8: Through My Eyes: Week 1 Results

9/9: Through My Eyes: Behind the Mind of a Teenager Fighting Cancer & Social Anxiety

Through My Eyes: Behind the Mind of a Teenager Fighting Cancer & Social Anxiety

Through My Eyes is a series in which those affected by childhood cancer share a behind-the-scenes look into what it’s like to be in their shoes.  Read every perspective. Become aware and donate to help create solutions for kids fighting rare pediatric cancer. 

  • Perspective: Cancer Teen
  • Name:  Nicholas Haag, 17 yrs-old
  • Cancer: Stage 4 Osteosarcoma, relapsed
  • Diagnosed:  2016 at 13 years old. Dec 2018 relapased in hip & lungs
  • Treated At: Levine Children’s Hospital
  • Feels:  Terrified & Exhausted

Nicholas was featured on our social channels (Instagram & Facebook)  on 9/9/19 to share what it’s like being a teen with Asperger Syndrome fighting cancer. It’s real and it’s raw… just like childhood cancer.

My Name is Nicholas and I have stage 4 osteosarcoma.  Oh, and Asperger Syndrome. That too.

“How does it feel being a teenager fighting both cancer and a social anxiety disorder?  Terrifying and exhausting. After I was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t feel the effects immediately. But they were certainly profound when I returned to school.  I was never the type to have panic attacks before, but I certainly did when I returned. They were bad, especially in the hospital environment – and while that’s cooled down some… I still get panic attacks.  Especially in situations when my counts are low.

Panic attacks are strange. You’re convinced something is wrong with you. And the physical symptoms are similar to if something is actually wrong with you. It becomes reasonable in your mind to connect the two. Even though I’ve become better at recognizing them, they are still a pain in the ass and are frightening to actually experience.

For awhile I couldn’t purchase something at the store because I felt unfamiliar with everything – for worry I might screw up. I don’t really know sometimes what I’m supposed to do socially, I’ve slowly learned.  Americans do tend to just hit up conversation…that makes me anxious.

Being diagnosed with cancer has made me a more paranoid person when it comes to my health – and I did pretty much everything possible to limit my cancer risk. A more anxious one too. Upon seeing something that I would see as triggering, there was no stopping my anxiety, and sometimes it would just spike up randomly.

Uncertainty of Cancer

“Nosebleeds. Often, some platelets will solve this, but oftentimes close to my nadir my nose will bleed and sometimes uncontrollably. Last week was among the worst nosebleeds I’ve ever had and had to be admitted, inpatient.  I got home around 2am. It’s these trips that can cause me the most anxiety and stress because it’s not a scheduled thing. The uncertainty of what’s going to happen makes me anxious. So can you imagine what the uncertainty of cancer does to me?

It sucks going in for chemo two weeks out of four. Plenty frustrating since this has been my schedule for the better part of this year. And yet it’s kinda unpredictable since you can’t guarantee certainties on the schedule.”

Mom’s Heart Breaks 

“We were packed for the beach with the kids and my mom in the car, ready to go.  I thought his lump on his leg could have been a torn ligament or something that might need a brace.  My husband passed out when he heard the news. My heart hurt so much for my child. I have not been to the beach since, and I don’t think I ever want to go again.

The thing that makes me the proudest of Nicholas is his amazing resilience of spirit.  He doesn’t stop fighting and he keeps on going, even when it’s so hard for him. He also maintains compassion and caring for others while going through something so hard.  He is there for his friends when they are going through hard times. It’s so amazing that he still has empathy for others.” – Jennifer, Nicholas’ Mom

Searching for the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Nicholoas has turned his love of train travel into a way to cope with his cancer.  A way to map out visually the next step forward. A way to show him how far he has come and a way to keep him focused on searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.
“My road map is more of a train map.  I used to be into trains a lot. Living in England – where there is much better rail travel than in America – I took trains for the hell of it sometimes. Spotting and riding the different types have been definitely fun to me even today. I studied the rail map of London to the point I can still tell you where to go without looking at it. So we created a small poster modeled off the London Underground District Line – the line I would use to get home in London – and put markers for how far along I was.

England has always felt more my spiritual home. Something about it screams out to me as particularly homey and I always felt more at home in the UK than I do in the US. Despite being American I have visited the UK consistently and it’s almost become therapeutic – having a chance to go back to my home away from home.”

Day-To-Day Life Changed 

“Walking even a slight amount of distance makes me tired… and it’s painful. As someone who doesn’t have a car and took public transport to get to school, even before this relapse – it was hard. And just when I thought physically I was starting to recover, I got rediagnosed. And here I am again.”

Nicholas had a knee replacement in 2016. In just a few weeks, he will be undergoing surgery for a hip replacement to replace his pelvic bone where the disease is located.  Both replacements are with metal. Nicholas will have to learn how to walk all over again.

Now What? 

“This might not even be the end. Realistically, it could feasibly happen again and this could be a recurring thing throughout my life. That’s the toughest thought, knowing “yes, I can get through this one, now what?” You never stop dealing with cancer but it’s different from actually having it in you.

I’ve always wanted to travel across the world. There are so many places I want to visit. I hope to visit Asia post-surgery. I hope to sort of live the most “normal” life I can after this. I hope I can finish the early college program at CPCC and that by that time, I could have enough credits to nearly earn my college degree.”

17 years old. Terrified. Exhausted. On his second time around the cancer block, Nicholas speaks out on what it’s like being a teenager fighting cancer struggling with Asperger Syndrome. This stage 4 osteosarcoma warrior had the courage to step out of his comfort zone to publicly talk about his anxiety. We hope you will take time to read his perspective. It’s real. It’s raw… just like childhood cancer. Are you aware now?

DONATE NOW

All photos/videos courtesy of Nicholas’ Mom, Jennifer Haag.

*** THROUGH MY EYES: THIS IS CHILDHOOD CANCER SERIES

9/2: We Have Stopped Making You Aware

9/3: Through My Eyes: This is Childhood Cancer 

9/3: Through My Eyes: What Cancer Leaves Behind

9/4: Through My Eyes: Day In the Life Of Kellie Andrew, Warrior Mom Fighting to Save Her Child From Neuroblastoma

9/5: Through My Eyes: Behind the Scenes with Aaron Plummer, Dad to RhabdomyosarcomaWarrior

9/6: Through My Eyes: What My Child About Cancer, What Really Scares This Cancer Mom

9/8: Through My Eyes: Week 1 Results

Through My Eyes: Week 1 Results

Kellie took over our Instagram feed and stories on 9/5/19 to share Brinn’s cancer story and give you a ‘day in the life’ view of their day. It’s real and it’s raw… this is childhood cancer.

We shared several perspectives last week as part of our Through Your Eyes: This is Childhood Cancer Awareness Campaign.  We loved seeing the engagement, the comments, the likes, the shares and the donations. Each perspective is so different and gives us another viewpoint of the realities of what this awful disease is doing to our future and their loved ones.  It’s a month-long series to help make you aware, we have plenty more to share.

Week 1 results:  $11,525 was donated and 73,315 people were reached on social.  Thank you to those who donated and who shared.  We are asking a lot this month, we know.  But as Erin said… “Sometimes your child’s life hangs in the balance of whether or not someone out there is going to do something for your child.”  So we are doing something about it.

In case you missed any from the 1st week:

9/2: We Have Stopped Making You Aware

9/3: Through My Eyes: This is Childhood Cancer 

9/3: Through My Eyes: What Cancer Leaves Behind

9/4: Through My Eyes: Day In the Life Of Kellie Andrew, Warrior Mom Fighting to Save Her Child From Neuroblastoma

9/5: Through My Eyes: Behind the Scenes with Aaron Plummer, Dad to RhabdomyosarcomaWarrior

9/6: Through My Eyes: What My Child About Cancer, What Really Scares This Cancer Mom

This Week Look For…

➡️ Monday:  Behind the Mind of a Teen Fighting Cancer & Social Anxiety Disorder

➡️ Wednesday: What It’s Like  to be a Young Adult Fighting Cancer

➡️ Friday: What it’s Like to be a Young Adult supporting a Loved One With Cancer

Other Ways to Take Action This Month

➡️ Become an Awareness Ambassador

➡️ Register for the ISF Race, 9/28: 5kforkidscancer.com

Thank you for your time, all the comments to these families, content shared and dollars donated.  We appreciate the action taken and hope to inspire more.

DONATE NOW

Through My Eyes: What My Child Thinks about Cancer, What Really Scares This Cancer Mom

Through My Eyes is a series in which those affected by childhood cancer share a behind-the-scenes look into what it’s like to be in their shoes.  Read every perspective. Become aware and donate to help create solutions for kids fighting rare pediatric cancer. 

  • Perspective: Cancer Mom
  • Name:  Dianna Lariviere
  • Son:  Max Lariviere
  • Cancer: Stage 4 High-Risk Neuroblastoma
  • Diagnosed:  08.05.18
  • Treated at:  Levine Children’s Hospital

Max has had a rough year with many setbacks, delayed treatment schedules, prolonged hospital stays and high anxiety. These are just a few thoughts from her son that scares this cancer mom. Dianna was featured on our social channels (Instagram & Facebook)  on 9/6/19.  It’s real and it’s raw… just like childhood cancer.

 My Child Now Wants To Keep His Cancer… 

He lost his friends because of his cancer and his new friends, his nurses, he will lose, when it is gone.  He will be 4 in October. So now he has to see speech therapy to retrain himself that it’s ok to eat food by mouth, he will need speech therapy for hearing loss and he will most likely need therapy to realize that he does NOT want to keep his cancer.  All he knows are these nurses. Those are his friends because he’s been isolated for a year now, and it’s not over. A 3 1/2 year old thinks this way. Max is pretty advanced. He knows exactly what is happening to him and that’s what scares me. He’s not going to forget all of this.

It’s All My Fault…

He’s stuck in the house all the time like bubble boy and has no childhood.  It’s just awful. He says “It’s all my fault” and “I’m sorry” all the time. He thinks the cancer is his fault and shuts down when we try to talk about anything.

 I’m Never Going to Get Better…

“I’m never going to get better.” – Max

That’s how our conversation home from clinic today began. So much emphasis is placed on the physical side effects of cancer and not the psychological. I can’t tell you how many times people have said Max won’t remember half of what he’s going through. They are wrong. He was almost 3 when he was diagnosed. He’s going to be 4 next month. He has spent the past year living in a hospital… living a complete nightmare all while in his toddler years, when developmental stages are so crucial.

People don’t think a child Max’s age can have severe anxiety or PTSD but they can, and he does. I only hope one day he can have less of it, that we all can have less of it, but he has to live with this for the rest of his life as well. Every what if.

DONATE NOW

Photos courtesy of Dianna Lariviere. You can follow Max’s journey with neuroblastoma on his Facebook Channel Max’s Fight With Neuroblastoma

*** THROUGH MY EYES: THIS IS CHILDHOOD CANCER

9/2: We Have Stopped Making You Aware

9/3: Through My Eyes: This is Childhood Cancer 

9/3: Through My Eyes: What Cancer Leaves Behind

9/4: Through My Eyes: Day In the Life Of Kellie Andrew, Warrior Mom Fighting to Save Her Child From Neuroblastoma

9/5: Through My Eyes: Behind the Scenes with Aaron Plummer, Dad to Rhabdomyosarcoma Warrior