Graduate college, start grad school, start a full-time job, fight cancer.

I graduated from Virginia Tech in May of last year, with high hopes for the next few years of the start of my career. Like the majority of college graduates entering today’s economy, I was a little scared of what the future held, anxiety ridden of the new responsibilities that come with adulthood and the “real world” (Wait… you mean I actually have to pay back this $20,000 in student loans?) I started a graduate program to earn an MPH, bought a car and landed (“landed” as in applied for 110 jobs and heard back from an overwhelming 3) a full-time job doing exactly what I want to be doing, all within about 4 monImageths. I was busy to say the least, and managed to complain about the stresses of what I now know to be a blessed life.

I was running on autopilot up until December, when I got incredibly ill with what I figured was the flu. I missed about a week of work and classes, before I realized that something more serious was going on. I finally dragged myself to the doctor, and was diagnosed with mono. I woke up with a fever every single day for 3 weeks straight, I lost 13 pounds in less than a month, and just barely made it through my first semester of grad school. Mono is AWFUL. If you’ve ever had it, you know how bad it is, if you haven’t, feel lucky. It lasted for about a month and a half, just in time for the start date of my new job.

I was finally on the mend, feeling better, adjusting to a new job, new classes and even signed up for my first marathon, when I started to feel off again. In late January, I noticed I had been unreasonably tired, I lacked the energy to run after work, and had a weird rash on my body that I couldn’t see or feel. I was sitting at my desk at work, when I rested my hand on my neck and felt a massive lump. I thought it was strange, but didn’t think much of it, mostly because I attributed it to managing to choke on toothpaste while rushing out the door that morning (clumsy for the win!) A few days went by when I decided to mention it to my supervisor who also happened to be a nurse practitioner (the perks of working in healthcare). She didn’t seem too phased, and attributed it to a late symptom of the mono. However, per her recommendation, and out of a gut feeling, I decided to be proactive and have it checked out.

I was ordered to get a sonogram, which showed I had enlarged lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. Again, I thought, enlarged lymph nodes, what’s the big deal? From there, purely out of precaution, my doctor decided I should have a lymph node needle biopsy and a chest scan. I had the scan done first, which was really the start of this out-of-body-experience where your body belongs to machines and doctors more than it does to you, but we’ll get there later. The surgeon who was to conduct my biopsy, reviewed my results with me a few days later. The CT showed that I had enlarged lymph nodes in my chest, my neck and under my left armpit. This time, I got worried. I knew enough, and I had done enough research this time to know something serious could be wrong.

What was supposed to be a quick procedure in office to check the largest lymph node on my neck, turned into scheduling my first major procedure for the following Friday. The surgeon explained to me that he had to remove the node surgically and send it to a pathologist to determine its make-up, something that couldn’t simply be done with a small sample drawn from a needle.

I had my first surgery on March 7th of 2014, and was supported and surrounded by my family, amazing boyfriend (Zac) and great friends. I remember laughing beforehand, and waking up with apple juice and graham crackers. Slightly like a hazy memory from pre-school. The pain was minimal, and I had good painkillers anyways. The week that followed, waiting for my results to come back, was probably the hardest, most stressful, longest week of my life (I’m usually dramatic, but this is pretty accurately conveyed). The internet provided more information than I would have liked, and researching to diagnose myself somehow seemed like a logical solution to pass the time (don’t do it).

Finally, Thursday arrived, and I finally knew what I’d be facing. My boyfriend, parents and I walked into an empty, sterile waiting room and sat down until my name was called. I brought Zac back with me knowing he was the one person I could handle hearing any news with, good or bad. The surgeon walked in and it must have only taken him 3 seconds to say: “I’m sorry to have to tell you, you have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I wish I had better news….” I assume the rest of what he said was comforting and great advice, but my mind was already on the whole I have cancer part. I sat politely listening to him, but in reality I just wanted him to leave the room so I could give Zac a big bear hug. Finally, I thanked him, he left the room and looked up at Zac with tears in my eyes. He came over and did exactly what I needed, wrapped me in his arms and told me we were going to get through this.

The past few weeks leading up to my first chemotherapy treatment, have been a blur of medical exams, two additional surgeries and most importantly, a lot of love and support. I have the most amazing parents, boyfriend family and friends I could EVER ask for. Which, leads me to why I’m starting this blog. For some of you, reading this may simply be to gossip about “that girl from high school who has cancer now”, for others, it’ll be to follow my experience and offer your love and support, and hopefully, for some it’ll offer comfort and inspiration for whatever battle you may be facing, big or small.

I’m not unlucky because I got cancer, I’m lucky because I’m young, strong, incredibly determined and have enough love to get me through it. This is the beginning of the biggest fight of my life, but for those of you who know me, you know I’m a damn fighter.

15 thoughts on “Graduate college, start grad school, start a full-time job, fight cancer.

  1. Damn straight girl!! You FIGHT and fight HARD! Kick ass girl!!! Love you!! and please call or write or text or send up smoke signals if you can think of ANYTHING I can do for you!! You got this girl!! You totally are going to shock people with your fight!!! Love you!!!

  2. Ana Le says:

    Chelsea, You are such a beautiful woman. I promise you that I will constantly and continually have you in my prayers. I will ask as many to pray for you for being so strong. I really know and truly believe you will get through this. This post itself shows so much strength. I wish I had gotten to know you more while you were in Blacksburg but I could tell you were always a beautiful person. Really and truly sending you so much love and support.

  3. Aminah says:

    Wonderfully written. Im so sorry you’re going through this Chelsea. But you’re beautiful and smart and seem to be surrounded by so many people who love you!

    You will get through.

    Here is my love and support ♡

  4. Melissa Becker says:

    Chelsea, I’ll be praying you and your whole family. Way to have such a fighting spirit in such a hard time!

  5. alitlbhind says:

    I don’t know you Chelsea but, I have a friend who just underwent treatments for throat cancer (stage 3-almost 4) and he is back to work now. You stay strong and healthy in your heart and mind and body!! I’ll be praying.

  6. Dear Chelsea, Luke informed me yesterday, and I wanted to let you know that all your friends here at Spectrum will be in your corner 100%. Please let us know how we may help in any way. Hang in there! John Seng

  7. Aunt Jacq says:

    Like the girl I have known and loved since the day she was born, this blog conveys strength, humor, determination, and a soul that is beautiful and rare and wise way beyond the writer’s age. Oh how I hate the idea of all you’ve had to endure, Chesea Fasick, and yet I have every faith in you – that you will kick ass and take names….and do it with style:) I love you more than words can say, and am quite simply inspired by your strength and attitude. What an amazing woman you’ve grown up to be.

  8. Peggy Blackwell says:

    Chelsea: From the Blackwell Family — you have our full support and prayers! You do have great parents and a wonderful boyfriend and I know you will lean on them when you need it. Stay strong and positive! Please give your Mom a big hug for me too.

    Peggy Blackwell

  9. Samantha says:

    Since tech is how I know you, ONE thing I know about you is your a Hokie! We are all fighters! Hokies have passion, drive, determination and perseverance among other things!
    Looks like you have been busy since I left tech, keep doing amazing things and never put your head down. Keep faith and do not let negative thoughts cross your mind and when they do, close your eyes and count your blessings, they will all dissolve. A positive mind can fight anything! Keeping you in my prayers, ❤ Hokie Nation for life!

  10. MauriceF says:

    I know we didn’t know each other very well, but I distinctly remember how happy and positive you were the few times we did talk. Even when I heard about your chaotic job search (didn’t know it hit the triple digits!). Having had family in this situation, it’s refreshing to see that you’re still giving these good vibes, regardless of the current obstacles. I encourage you to continue them!
    Knowing that you start your chemo soon, I send my best wishes. I will absolutely keep reading this blog as long as you post, and for me I’d like to know if there’s anything we (the readers) can do to help. I also know there’s a charity in your name, so let us know how best to contribute to those things.
    Good luck today. Keep smiling, and keep fighting. You have a lot of loved ones in your corner, and some others to cheer you on.

  11. If you can apply for 110 jobs, then cancer is nothing! Kick some butt! You’ve always been a fighter (running miles on miles on a TREADMILL)! I’m in the Arlington/DC area too, so let me know if you ever wanna grab a bite and play catch up when you’re up for it!

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