A ROAD OF REMISSION
My name is Chelene Tory Logan. I am a 4 time Cancer survivor, and am currently a little over 3 and half years in remission! My journey with the big C began when I was 21. I am a licensed hairstylist and was constantly working. When I wasn't working I was on the constant go like any other young 20 something, so me being under the weather for constant days and even weeks at a time I would think nothing of it other than I needed more rest. Forth of July 2010 I went to a pool party at a friends where I thought I pulled a muscle in my left groin, and at the time thought nothing of it. As the days went on my pulled muscle stated hurting more and more, and it went from what felt like a hard muscle to a hard ball. The ball grew and grew, and as it did so did the pain. I finally decided to go to the Dr get my groin examined. I went to my local urgent care. I had described all my symptoms and the pain I was having on my groin from touch, and movement. After a very rough physical examination the Dr told me I had a blood clot, and needed emergency attention as the clot could break off, travel to my heart, get stuck and I could die. Of course being terrified I went immediately to my county hospital. County hospital placed me in the hallway on a bed as my 'room' where I waited for a short bit. I was taken into an exam room where a dr had given me a visual examination of my pelvis and was immediately told I had chlamydia. I was then given a penicillin shot, and a prescription for pain medication and sent home. After a few days of not feeling any better, and feeling like chlamydia wasn't the correct diagnosis I decided to make an appointment to my local Md. After reviewing my chart, giving me a physical exam, and question me she determined that I was misdiagnosed with chlamydia, but that did have some type of infection going on. She wrote me a perception for an antibiotic, and advised me to continue to take the pain medication as needed. After 5 more days of not getting betting I spiked a high fever and went back to my MD. She walked into my exam room, took a long hard look at me up and down, sat in her stool, and said "Miss Taylor, I think you may have HIV, and I'd advise you to go to the hospital for immediate medical attention." I couldn't believe it! From being perfectly fine one day, to super sick and in pain the next. Then being told I had blood clotting, then it wasn't blood clotting but chlamydia, but, it's not chlaymdia, nope I've got HIV. I felt like I died then. I refused to go to the hospital immediately after my Md visit, and instead went home. After filling the new prescription from my MD I decided what was the point of taking another medication if I didn't even know if I would need to be taking that medication. So the local hospital I went. I was immediately checked-in and had my vitals taken, where the attending Er Dr reconzied my name and decided that part of his job is to reprimand and punish patients for when they do not immediately come to the hospital when the orders for them to be seen have been sent to come. I tried to explain that mentally my situation was a lot for me to handle and apologize, but he was really angry and told me it would be hours before a bed wold become available and I would be seen and sent me to the waiting room. After a hour or so of my pain increasing and still having a fever I asked a nurse if there was anything that could be done to help accommodate my pain, even being put in a hallway on a bed, but before she could even respond the Er Dr interjected saying "I told you, you didn't come when you are told, so you HAVE to wait!" So I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. In that time I watched serval more patients come in. One in particular still stands out to me this day. One lady was wheeled in by what seemed to be her mother. She was in a hot pink shirt, bald, and appeared to be sick from chemotherapy. I was in such a awe of her but couldn't understand why. Moments later I was called to a bed. Walking down the hall Being escorted to my bed I couldn't help but count 6 empty beds, as I was placed in the very last one. I did blood work and was given an Iv after the nurse blew my vein and got blood on him, me, the bed, and the floor. The hospital gave me a Cat scan. They said I had an infection accruing in my left groin region, but my MD had already given me antibiotics so there was nothing further for them to do, and advised me to follow up with my MD. I went home and took the pan medication and the antibiotics. Surprisingly I was feeling better! That Sunday I woke up went back to work. I walked in and my manager told me he wasn't expecting me, that I didn't look fully recovered and I was welcome to leave at any moment. Told him I felt great and thanked him. Right as my manager unlocked the front doors for the day I got an instantly hot flash of sickness. I sat down for a few seconds and just had a feeling I needed to leave. As I start my car my gas light came on. After struggling just to pay and pump gas I got on the freeway and blacked out. I remember getting on the freeway, seeing 90 on my speedometer, and getting off the freeway, and parking at the church where my mother was attending their morning service. I ran around trough the parking lot, around the church, and through the doors. I didn't even stop to look for my mother, I just instinctively knew where she was, and found her praying with the rest of the church in the back row. I grabbed her arms, yelled "Mom!" And passed out. I was dragged outside, given a wet rag, and Gatorade. When I regained consciousness I said "Take me to the hospital. I am NOT leaving until they find out was is wrong with me. So the hospital we went. I was immediately checked in, had my vitals taken, given a room and pain medication. Not even being there for 45 minutes a nurse came in and said "Mom you might want to go home and grab a few things, your daughter is being admitted and we are keeping her until we figure out what is going on." The next week and a half were constant prayer but a real blur, with lost days, endless amounts of scans, tests, and blood work. One test I had done was an ultrasound. It was over, and I was still in the room waiting for the transporter to take me back to my room. I was so tried that I feel asleep. I had a dream that I was in a wheelchair with a hot pink shirt on with no hair. I had dreamt I was the women with cancer that I saw on my previous hospital visit. I woke up and knew I had cancer. I cried, and thanked God. July 21, 2010 I had two Drs come in my room and say "Miss Taylor, you have Cancer." My mother who was stand beside my bed fell into the chair behind her and I simply replied "When do I start chemo?" I had 6 rounds of chemo and was considered in remission. I couldn't believe after being sick for so long, and having to go through chemo, I was finally considered healthy. I was a over a year in remission when one night on the way to the store I felt a pain on my left underarm area. I Thought it was my bra hurting me, and I decided to take it off thinking it was just rubbing or poking me wrong. As I was taking it off I felt a lump. I instantly knew the cancer had returned. I made an appointment to see my oncologist the next morning. He told me that it was 'highly unlikely' that I had Cancer again. I told him I knew it was back, I had that 'gut feeling' and would be demanding to be seen in regards to lump that was causing so much pain and growing, and if he didn't I would be switching Drs. He put in a request for a biopsy that afternoon. I had the lump in my left arm pit biopsied and the results showed I had Lymphoma again. I made it 1 year 3 months and 2 weeks in remission. I had a fully lymph removal where that Dr discovered that there were two lymph nodes that needed to be removed and the cancer was growing at an extreme rate. Since the cancer returned, and returned so resilient I had to start chemo again, but I also had to have a stem cell (Autologous) transplant. I was referred to a hematology Dr at USC. From there we made a plan to have the stem cell transplant, which kicked off a bunch of extensive testing to see my body was even healthy enough to withstand a stem cell transplant while chemo weeks before the transplant. It also included more chemo a few days before the transplant, and bunch of chemo hours before your transplant. After passing all of the testing and doing all the required pre chemo on August 18, 2012 I received my stem cell transplant. I had to stay two week post transplant in the hospital, and had to stay nearby for an additional two weeks to return daily for testing. I was doing well and was released to go home. I went back for my check ups where my Dr kept saying I was doing well. At my 8 week post transplant check up I questioned why I had not received a pet scan confirming that I was clear of cancer. The Dr told me it was too early to do a scan. I told her I wanted one, that I didn't trust her word. Hesitant at first she ordered the scan but making sure to tell me "I'm only ordering this scan so you can ease up on your anxiety and trust my word!" My pet scan appointment was the very last one on that Friday. 9:02 Monday morning I got a phone call from my Drs office saying the dr would like to see me. As soon as I saw the phone number show on my screen I knew what it meant. Talking to my Dr, the cancer had returned for the 3rd time, and in my chest and back lymph nodes. More Chemo it was, and 4 more rounds is what I received. Then I received a pet scan. All of the cancer was gone, and my Dr considered me in remission, again.
Two months later I started having pain my back, and into my right sacroiliac. After a few massages, hot baths, hot pads, and ice, I knew things were not good so I made an appointment to see my oncologist. I was seen by the nurse practitioner who gave me a quick physical exam and reviewed my latest pet scan results. When being see I was told "I (you) must have pulled a muscle or twisted wrong because Cancer doesn't grow in your back and sacroiliac." Having that gut feeling that what I was hearing was wrong, I (again) insisted on having a pet scan done. She refused. I insisted again and said "I know the Cancer has returned! If you do not give me a scan the cancer will grow, and when it's found it will be too late. ALL of that will be on you! So, please, put in an order for a let scan." Sure requested a pet scan right then. I had a pet scan, and sure enough the cancer had returned in my back and right groin lymph nodes. At that point my oncologist started talking about how I would need to have a bone marrow transplant. A stem cell transplant, and 3 chemo cycles were more than enough for me. I was tired of fighting and didn't want to anymore, I decided I was done fighting. A couple days went on and my boyfriend, Steven and mother tried and tried to convince me to push on and keep fighting. I felt like I had failed at life and wasn't ever going to win. As the days past the hounding kept coming, and I kept refusing.
One morning I was taking my dog for a walk as I got a phone call. That phone call was a lady from Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Not knowing what CTCA is immediately interjected and said "I am sorry that I owe you money, but I cannot pay. I cannot make payments, because I don't have extra money and will not being having an income because I was diagnosed with cancer, again." She calimly replied "Chelene, your mother wanted me to call you." She immediately had my full attention. She explained who she was and what all Cancer Treatment Centers is and all what they have to offer. After hearing I would be getting a second opinion by two Drs, and all the hope in her voice, and all the hospital had to offer said yes to getting a second opinion. The next week Steven and I were off to Chicago to Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Illinois for my second opinion. Arriving at the hospital we ate breakfast, got registered, and had my blood drawn. As we waited to see the Drs we watched how the nurses interacted with the rest of the hospital staff. We watched Drs and nurses interacted with each other and their patients. In those two hours of waiting, and watching I saw more love and compassion than I had the whole time I was being treated. I turned to Steven and said "This is where I am meant to be, and this is where I will treated." I met my Drs who I instantly fell in love with and had 100% trust with. In that second opinion I learned that after my cancer had returned the first time (second time having cancer) I should of had a bone marrow transplant because of how quickly it returned. Then, I learned that after the stem cell transplant it would have been best to get a bone marrow transplant. Then I learned that the chemo I was on after my stem cell transplant was supposed to be a minimum of 8 rounds, not 4, and by having it cut in half it actually allowed my cancer to become more rapid and resist to any previous treatments (chemo). Then, I learned that I could have been on the chemo I was on for life and it would have kept the cancer at bay. I was devastated to hear all of that, yet somehow was relieved.
Then I was told I only had two options for treatment: To have a bone marrow transplant and live, or not have one and die. Of course I want to live, so I immediately said yes to having a bone marrow transplant. My Drs had my team of nurses getting my treatment plan and testing started right after our visit. I was given an abundance of information on Lymphoma and having bone marrow transplant, and an outlined schedule of what testing would need to be done and when treatment would actually begin. I also met with my nurse navigator, nutritionist, naturopath, mind and body, and pastoral care. All of which were pre scheduled for me on behalf of my Drs. Returning home I felt extremely overwhelmed. I had just taken in a lot of information, and was for sure in the fight for my life. I told Steven I was done fighting. I had come back to reality and to all the thoughts of gruesomeness that comes along with battling the big C, let alone a transplant. I figured my time was limited anyways so I might as well spend it happy, with my loved ones, and make as make checks on my bucket list while I still could. No one was pleased with my plans, especially Steven and my mom. They keep trying to convince me to go through with the transplant, but I wasn't budging. On another morning walk with my dog I got a phone call from my nurse at Ctca. She was calling on behalf of my Drs and team of nurses to see how I was feeling doing. After talking to her for a few minutes it clicked. I knew I was in great hands. I knew I wasn't going to be treated like a paycheck. I knew I would not have to beg for scans(/testing), but actually be taken care of, mentality, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Hanging up I made up my mind and was going to fight, again. I flew to CTCA every 3 weeks for chemo. Each trip in addition to chemo I did extensive testing, just like I did in my stem cell transplant just a few more, like DNA testing to find the best candidate to be my marrow donor. One of my visits I was seeing on of my Drs who said "In my 20 something years of being in this field I have never see someone come back with as many matches as you! You have over 1,000 potential candidates!' I knew I made the correct choice, I knew CTCA would save my life. My next visit my nurse who was in charge of the DNA matching informed me they had found a match. I was so excited and asked if there was anything they could tell me about them, knowing I am not allowed to have much information about my donor. My nurse paused and said "Chelene, we found your match! We found your 100% match! 10/10 DNA markers with the same with matching blood type!" I was told they were a 22 year old male from England. December 12 I flew to CTCA for my bone marrow transplant. The 13th I had a picc line (catheter) placed in my arm. I had to do physical therapy, and started my chemo. I had a round a day for 4 days and then a 'resting' day. December 18th, 2016 my donors marrow came FedEx to me at CTCA. I knew I was strong, but having a one marrow transplant and getting alone I was depressed. I just wanted my mommy. Two days later my mother was there.
5 days after my bone marrow transplant I had to do daily neupogen until my blood counts were high enough that I wouldn't be needing them. I stayed in patient for 16 days post transplant, in which time my Nana, and Steven came to visit on January 2. Steven gave me a box that night, and said "I'm not going anywhere, I'd like you to be my wife." I was released two days later. I had to stay for 100 days post op to return daily for testing, hydration, and any other medical needs. My Nana stay with me for the 100 days to be my caregiver. A few days after my 25th birthday I was cleared to go home. I had to return in a week, and every other week for a few weeks, for check ups. Those went well, and I had to return once every 6 weeks until my Drs felt I was doing well enough to go to 8 weeks, and then onto every 3 months. I still go every 3 months for check ups. September 15th is the last time I was there where I received a ct scan to show any Cancer present in the body. I am 100% free to his day!! Just shy of 3 years. I am beyond blessed and thankful for my life!
I met Chelene, a few years ago. We did a round of photos, and I took her Testimony, well it wasn't over on her journey, so this is the updated story. This girl is a ball full of life, and love. I am blessed to know her, and blessed to be able to share her story.
HAIR by: Amber Otero
Makeup by: Chelsea Garza