Letters To The Editor

As many of you already know, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin?s Lymphoma, a type of cancer, when I was 15. I had found a lump in my neck, just above my right collar bone. I received chemotherapy and radiation in Edmonton. It was a very tough time for me and my family, but with the amazing support of everyone in this town we were able to pull through.

After I was done treatments, I was in remission and continued to go to Edmonton every six months to get routine check-ups. In early June of my Senior Year, I received the best graduation gift anyone could receive. I was officially a Childhood Cancer Survivor. I was very excited to work for the town during the summer, and then go to Grant MacEwan in Edmonton to get my Bachelor of Science Degree.

In late September, I began to notice swelling on the right side of my neck, and after a few days I was able to feel lumps. For the next three months (October, November and December) I tried to juggle school, new friends and frequent trips to the U of A hospital for more tests. During my chemistry final exam, my doctor called me informing me that I would have to get a biopsy, to confirm if the results of all the scans I had been getting done were correct. I had the biopsy done on December 19th, and then I was able to come home to enjoy the Christmas holidays.

When my doctor called me on the morning of December 30th, she didn?t deliver good news. The biopsy had confirmed my test results; my cancer was back. Over the next couple weeks, I was in Edmonton meeting my new doctors, as I was now an adult and could no longer be treated in the Children?s Stollery, and being re-evaluated so they could determine the right path of treatments for me. It took some time for the Cross Cancer Institute to decide, as I was not a ?straight-forward case?. I am currently getting weekly chemo treatments in Grande Prairie. In March I am going to be going to Edmonton to get a bone marrow transplant, a process that will take a total of two months.

Words cannot even begin to explain the gratitude I feel towards everyone in this town. I am eternally grateful for the way people came together to support me in my battle. I am so moved by everyone?s generosity. I am proud to say that I am from Tumbler Ridge, a community that continues to value the meaning of love, family and neighbours.

I want to thank Fern Iles and the staff/volunteers for the fundraiser dinner at the Twilight Lodge on Valentine?s Day, Darryl Karkowka and Shop Easy for the silent auction, the District Union CUPE, Sheila?s Place, Grizzly Crane, the Tumbler Ridge Ministerial, and to all the wonderful individuals who donated money or simply kept me in their prayers. I truly appreciate everything you have all done for me. I also want to take this opportunity to send my thoughts and love to Elliot Reid and his family, as well as to Robella Galapia?s family.

Xochitl Smith.