Meet Qessia

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Qessia and I began our fairy tale marriage in October of 2012. We purchased a small house up the street from her parents and invited a yellow lab puppy into our family. We named her Copper, but she responds to the many nicknames we’ve given her, from Copley Walker to Cindy Lauper. We hope to someday welcome kids into our home, too; but until then, Copper’s our favorite “fur baby.” When we’re not giving her the attention she begs for or sharing our dreams with each other or working toward those dreams (and paying the bills) with our jobs—Qess is a Nursing Unit Educator at McKay-Dee Hospital and I’m a Personal Banker at US Bank—we like to go boating on Pineview Reservoir and to spend time with family and friends, to attend car shows (yes, Qess likes them, too!), and to hang out at the family farm.

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Our life together and our hopes for the future were blindsided on April 15, 2015, when Qessia went to the doctor with what we thought was an extended bout with the flu; instead, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (it used to be called Hodgkin’s Disease) is a rare cancer of the lymphatic system, which is a major part of the body’s immune system. It’s made up of lymph nodes and lymph vessels that make and move white blood cells throughout the body to fight infection. In Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, cells in the lymphatic system don’t grow as they should and these abnormal cells can spread beyond the lymphatic system. As the disease progresses, it weakens the body’s ability to fight infection. When she was diagnosed, Qessia’s cancer was in stage two, meaning that it had spread beyond just one group of lymph nodes. Her doctors were hopeful, though, that chemotherapy would destroy the cancer cells and restore Qess to full health and strength.

Sawyer-3She started chemo in mid-May and responded to the first treatment as well as can be expected, experiencing just minor nausea, fatigue, and aches and pains. But the second treatment hit her—and me—a bit harder. Since she was diagnosed, Qess has been the strong one, holding everything together while I was breaking down. When she woke up to a hair-covered pillow the second day after the treatment and decided it was time to shave her head, I wept. It was gut wrenching to see what this disease was doing to her body. Until that moment, it seemed like she just had a bad flu or something. But as I ran the clippers across her head, as I saw her long blonde hair drop to the floor, as I watched her resting later in her recliner, she looked truly sick—cancer sick.

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The doctors have told us that Qessia’s chances of recovery are high and she’s responding well to treatments, so we’re hopeful her battle with cancer won’t last too much longer. We’re also grateful to have good health insurance to offset the cost of her check-ups and treatments. But every day we feel the emotional and financial burdens of dealing with a chronic illness. We appreciate everyone who reaches out to share the burdens with us.

No one fights alone.