A mother’s anguish over daughter’s cancer saga

By Jill Collaro on August 7, 2017

Relay_Lacey for websiteEverything in my family changed the day my daughter Lacey came into the kitchen and said, “Mom, there is a lump here in my collar bone on one side and not the other. It doesn’t hurt, but I don’t think it is supposed to be there.”

The doctor said it was probably a clogged and infected gland and prescribed antibiotics. After two weeks, the lump grew from the size of a couple of almonds to a walnut. After tests and a biopsy, we got the call: “Your daughter has cancer.” These four words take your breath away.

Lacey, now a cancer survivor, will be the opening speaker at the Clayton Relay for Life. The event runs 10 a.m. Aug. 12 to 10 a.m. Aug. 13 in the Grove park downtown.

After graduating from Clayton Valley High School, Lacey attended Fullerton and the Art Institute in San Francisco and was living at home when she was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My husband quickly went into research mode, and I went into prayer mode. Our family and friends went into support mode.

My heart stayed in prayer mode as Lacey went through chemo, radiation, ER visits, blood transfusions, bone marrow biopsies and PET scans. She faced it all with an amazing spirit and inner strength. The most devastating thing was losing her hair at the young age of 20. So, she dressed with scarves, makeup and a wig with a different hair color.

After a year of treatment, we thought the cancer was behind her and she again set out for college. She was 22 when the cancer returned with vengeance. She had tumors throughout her chest cavity and was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Lacey stayed at Stanford for two months. She had a bone marrow transplant with her own marrow, along with chemo, radiation and the loss of her hair for the second time. After the transplant, we returned home to normal life – whatever that means.

At age 26, she was once again cancer free. But a routine PET scan found that the cancer had returned. There were two small spots in her chest and she was at stage 2.

My husband died in January 2016, and Lacey’s third diagnoses came as we had been grieving for only four weeks. The doctors said to fight the disease with a second bone marrow transplant, this time from a donor. Her younger brother Jared was not a match. We found a match after six months, and we moved to Stanford for 2½ months. We had our faith, along with family and friends who once more showed up with love and support.

Lacey lost her hair for the third time through the chemo and radiation treatments to prepare her body for the transplant. She came through the transplant with flying colors. We were determined to be home by Christmas, and we made it.

Lacey is now cancer free. I am so thankful to God and our family and friends who love us so dearly. I am grateful to be a mom.

Relay for life schedule 2017

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