As part of The Linda Project, Jenna and I will be having guest Interviewees/Bloggers share about topics in life that we may not have experience with. After all, this virtual retreat we have created is so much more then just postpartum anxiety and infertility. So today, I hope you take the time to read this young woman’s story, I promise you won’t regret it.
May 9th, 2013 – I was walking through the downtown skyways during my lunch hour, when I received a text message from Bridget Karg (my daughter’s daycare provider). I surely couldn’t be reading the message correctly. Nikki, (Bridget’s daughter) has Leukemia. Leukemia? This doesn’t make any sense. I went back to my desk and sat in silence with tears rolling down my face. How? She’s 17. She’s too young. This isn’t fair.
Three years later, Nikki Karg is here to share her story with all of you. How courageous of her, but then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less from her. I think we can all take something away from this young woman. She’s inspiring and determined. She’s a fighter. A warrior. She’s my Hero.
Nikki- may we all learn to live a little bit more like you. Thank you for never giving up on yourself and continuing to fight the fight. I’m honored to call you a friend (and the world’s greatest sitter!)
When did you find out you had cancer and what was your first reaction when you first were told you had Leukemia?
I just turned 20 years old and it sure doesn’t feel like it! I am a sophomore at the University Of St. Thomas and love every second of it. In high school I was a hockey player and had gone to state four times with South Saint Paul High School. I was in shape, completely healthy, and loved my long thick hair. I always talked about my hair.
When I was just 17 years old, I went to the doctor with a swollen knee and excruciating pain (I thought it was hockey related). When we received the results for my blood culture things weren’t what they should be. I was then sent straight to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, because they had the closest Oncology unit. From there, I developed an extremely high fever and was put on antibiotics and pain meds while my mom and I waited for the results. We thought it was maybe a blood infection or something minor, but we were completely wrong…At 9:30 a.m. my mom called all of my immediate family and told them that something was really wrong and they need to come to the hospital right away. “You have cancer,” are words I never thought I would hear directed towards me.
How did your friends and family respond?
Shock is the only word I can use to capture my friends and family’s feelings. No one saw this coming and especially to me. A healthy 17-year-old girl with her whole life in front of her.
I watched you have many “down days.” How did you find the strength to get through treatments?
After I spent time in denial and questioning why God would do something like this to me, I found hope. I realized that God wouldn’t have given me this task unless he knew I could handle it. I had the strength and determination to crush cancer and knew I was capable of it!
Who was your biggest supporter through your battle?
My mom, Bridget, never left my side. She saw me through my darkest days and kept me fighting. She is the strongest woman I know and I don’t know how things would have ended, if it wasn’t for her love and support. She is my rock.
How are you doing today?
As for today, I still have a battle to fight. It is not cancer but it is the side effects of my bone marrow transplant I received from my older sister Jenni. I have developed a skin disease called Graph Vs. Host. In understandable words, It means that my white cells are fighting with my sisters white cells to take over my body. It has given me sores all over my body and has effected my joint movement. I now get light treatment three times a week at the University of Minnesota and go to physical therapy twice a week. I still have a long road ahead of me but I won’t give up.
Can you tell us how you were driven to make a difference and your involvement with Love Your Melon?
One morning after I had received a round of chemo I got a gift basket. As I was looking through my basket I noticed a cool and interesting hat. It said “Love Your Melon” (LYM). I started researching them and found out their purpose and fell in love. I don’t know how else to describe it. I couldn’t stop thinking about the smiles that they put on children battling cancer by just giving them a hat to keep their bald head warm. Losing my hair was horrible. I hung on to it as long as I could and then shaved what was left. I wore Love Your Melon hats everyday until it grew back. Being a part of the University of St Thomas LYM Crew has changed my life. I am in an entrepreneurship class at school and hope that someday I’ll be able to make the same impact LYM has had on me.
What advice would you give other women facing this disease?
My advice is to never give up. My favorite quote is, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” I have lived by this quote for three years and it has only made me a stronger woman. I still face challenges in life, but if I was able to beat cancer – NOTHING will stand in my way to accomplish my dreams. God has a plan for me and he knows I was meant for great things.
To anyone going through something like this…There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It may not be the path you expect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best out of it!
Written By: Nikki Karg