"Don't give up hope, and allow those around you to help you when you need it. It's going to help them cope with it and it's going to help you survive."
Alexandria is 26 years old, living in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was diagnosed with Stage 4a Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma, a rare head and neck cancer.
To Alex: Chili dog! When I think of someone going through what you have been through over the past few months, I don't picture a person with such a zest for life, so strong, and still beaming with that bright smile of yours. You are proof that cancer does not change you as a person. We joke about your love for love, but it has become so infectious and especially now more than ever - I value every moment with those that I care about so much more. I cried just editing through your interview, I just want you to know how much of a hero you are to me and so many people. What stuck out to me in your interview is that you still have so much concern for how your friends and family are affected by what you are going through. Of course you fought for yourself, but it's obvious you knew that we would have all lost our minds without you, ha. God is always in your corner. I am sure I can speak for everyone when I say thank you for being an inspiration and improving so many of our perspectives on life. ♥
From your hubby, Joe Johnson: "Love is not love, which alters when alterations find." This battle that you have won might be the most important one you will ever have. The strength to withstand something that's sole purpose is to literally take life, is an amazing quality. Love is your strength. Love will help you through all . God is love and you are loved.
From your mama, Terri Hoffmann: To my beautifully strong fighter of a daughter! My heart broke when we got the news! To watch how u have handled it with strength & determination has given me such PRIDE! I know this has been a rough road but if anyone can beat this YOU CAN!! I love u beyond words! FIGHTING, FAMILY STRONG ♥
From Kristina: You're my hero and the reason I now say that I can do anything. You are one of the best people I know and I know God has so much more for you, so many blessings are awaiting you my love and I can't wait to see what's next! I love you so much!!!
Interview Date: 4/26/17
How were you diagnosed? It started off as headaches, earaches, neck pain. I had some jaw pain and stiffness which was once diagnosed as TMJ disorder. The headaches got worse, the jaw tightness got so bad I was barely able to eat, I lost hearing in my left ear. After seeing many specialists who were unsure why my symptoms were so bad, I requested my ENT to scope the back of my nose. There he found a large mass that he has never seen before. The tumor had gotten so large that it was sticking to my left masticator casing my jaw issues and hearing issues. Soon after, I had an MRI and a CT scan which allowed us to see the size of the tumor. Then a biopsy was done of the tissue in the back of my throat which came back from the pathologist as malignant. I found out so late, we had to start treatment almost immediately.
Is there a family history of cancer? Yes
What were your initial thoughts and reaction when you were diagnosed? I was mostly scared and sad. I knew that I had no choice in treatment options because of the stage which made me feel out of control. I felt alone because at the time I didn't really want to share the news in fear of hurting those I love, causing such a heavy burden on them. I was afraid that I wouldn't make it, that my life as I knew it was over. I had hope, but so much bad stuff had happened regarding my health that I was feeling very depressed about it in general.
After being diagnosed, how have you changed your perspective on life? After being diagnosed, I would say I value life and people even more. I always have but there is a sense of appreciation for life and the people closest to me but there is something about feeling such fear and going through such a difficult fight that makes you view the world in a different light.
What gives you strength and motivation? My family.
Who is your support system and how have they supported you? My husband, mother, in-laws, friends, and medical team.
What is your treatment process and what is your perspective on it? My treatment consisted of Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy. I started with 3 rounds of chemo, and then 3 more rounds concurrently with 7 weeks of radiation. I didn't really have a perspective on the process. I didn't really have a choice so I just tried to keep my mind as positive as possible. I just kept on thinking of it like a race and I just had to keep moving forward, one step at a time. I was very scared, but I knew what needed to be done to save my life.
What words do you have for ones afraid to get checked? Your health is the most important thing. It is what shapes quality of life. I know it is scary, but it's worse not knowing. It's worse being in the dark, in pain, with literally no hope. You have to get checked, for yourself, your well-being, your family and friends. The sooner you find out what is going on in your body the better off everything will be. Catching something later is even more scary, and more risky.
What advice or message can you provide to those who have been diagnosed? Don't give up hope and allow those around you to help you when you need it. It's going to help them cope with it and it's going to help you survive. It's okay to be scared but never give up. Keep on fighting. One day at a time. Trust your doctors and listen to them. It's going to get very hard, but stay positive, stay strong and remember there is always someone who is in a more difficult situation. Be grateful for the life that you have.