Parker County Today October 2016 - Page 10

PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY OCTOBER 2016 8 to coordinate services from diagnosis through surgery and treatment “We’re very involved with every patient’s journey, every step of the way,” Walsh said. “We are saving lives in Parker County. There are a lot of people out there who don’t want to know if they have cancer because they can’t afford to do anything about it.” Careity Foundation is based in Parker County, but also serves patients in Tarrant, Johnson, Hood and Palo Pinto Counties. “Lyn got me with Dr. (Ray) Page and Dr. DeEtte Vasques,” Trina said. “I’ve never been more blessed by all of these people. The whole thread of the rodeo world and how the family cares for each other, whether we’re blood kin or not, is simply amazing. Those fingers reach way across the U.S.” Doctors discovered Stacy’s malignancy when she went to the doctor because her neck had swollen. “I wasn’t having any symptoms,” she said. “I was running four miles a day. I thought I’d lifted something too heavy and strained a muscle somehow. I noticed that my heart was beating fast. It took them a long time to figure it out. That was the worst part of the deal.” Stacy underwent two biopsies and both of them came back inconclusive. “Then they went into my chest cavity and found Lymphoma,” Stacy said. Through Lyn Walsh Stacy found, Dr. Ray Page and The Center For Cancer & Blood Disorders. “Dr. Page was ordering my test way before I met him and when the last test came back he said, ‘I’ve been watching you from the bench for six weeks.’ The almost two months of not knowing was dreadful.” Trina and Stacy were communicating the entire time. “When she (Trina) got diagnosed I was at the hospital with her,” Stacy said. “Then I came with her to The Center of Cancer & Blood Disorders.” When Stacy became part of Trina’s support system in her battle with cancer, she had no idea that the disease was lurking within her. “That was in October (2015) and I went for my first CAT Scan in December (2015),” Stacy said. “I was diagnosed Jan. 4, 2016. It was a mass bigger than a grapefruit between my sternum and my heart. I was running 20 miles a week. I had no idea that my left lung had only 40 percent capacity. I had noticed that my heart was racing a lot faster at times.” The CAT Scan revealed that the tumor was pressing against one of her heart valves. “She’s tough,” Trina said of Stacy. Trina was having indications of trouble. “Mine incurred with some digestive issues,” Trina said. When Stacy brought Trina to her first Chemo treatment, she had no idea that she would be returning a few weeks later for her own treatment. “Stacy didn’t want to lose her beautiful curls,” Trina said. “So when she started her chemo her sister told her about an article she had read about something called a Cold Cap.” At the time she was willing to try almost anything. Trina was there with her each time, changing the caps every 15 minutes so as to maintain that optimal freezing temperature required in order for the cap to work its magic. Lyn and Beverly also were at Stacy’s first chemo treatment. Hair loss is one of chemotherapy’s most despised side effects, not because of vanity but because hair loss tends to fuel stigma, revealing to the world an illness that many would rather keep private. Few patients who are battling cancer want to have people they hardly know stop them at the supermarket, a restaurant or the mall to talk about their battle with cancer. Here’s how it works — the patient straps on a cap so cold it numbs the scalp during chemo. While it’s not widely used in the U.S., it works well enough to be used widely in Europe and Canada. The theory behind the Cold Cap is that near-freezing temperatures reduce blood flow in the scalp, making it harder for cancer-fighting drugs to reach and destroy hair follicles. But while several types of cold caps are sold around the world, scalp cooling during chemo is an idea that’s been around for decades, but it never became popular in the U.S. “It worked,” Trina said. “It was 50 below.” It was uncomfortable, at times agonizing, but to Stacy it was worth the pain. “It did, thank you, Jesus,” Stacy said. “I had eight rounds of chemo and 25 rounds of radiation.” Every time Stacy went for chemo, two of her friends would go with her to help her manage her Cold Cap. Trina was always one of them. “When I woke up from surgery and they told me it was cancer, the first thing I said was, ‘I don’t want to lose my hair,” Stacy said. “My brother said, ‘It will probably come back blonde and straight.’” Is there an upside to being a cancer survivor? “Yes. It’s been the strength we found in going through this,” Trina said. Both are truly cowgirl tough. Both are still roping. “I think it’s our solace,” Trina said. Stacy has continued working full-time through it all, as a bartender at Fire Oak Grill. “I couldn’t have done this without my fire Oak Grill family,” she said. “They’ve been wonderful.” Stacy is also a full-time college student who has kept up with her studies through the whole ordeal. Her goal is becoming an algebra teacher. What does it mean to have a close friend and confident at your side when you’re fighting the most frightening battle of your life? “It means everything,” Trina said. “It’s humbling to me to think that God had us in the palm of His hand the whole way. But, that’s not to say that we ever coddled each other.” Call it courage or call it tenacity, but the girls call it something else. “We are cowgirl tough,” she said. “We are cowgirls after all,” Stacy said, “We believe that you have to get on with it. You either get on with living or get on with dying.” Both girls, health permitting, will be competing in the Careity Celebrity Cutting, on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.