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Survivor Story: Nicole Munoz

Posted by Pete Visintin on


Written and Contributed by Nicole Munoz
 

My name is Nicole Munoz, and January 27th, 2009 was the day that changed my life, but in such a positive way.  I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 16.

It all began with a chest pain that started on Thanksgiving Day in 2008.  I went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with pleurisy.  I was given some medication, and the pain went away until January of the following year.  

The pain worsened, and I was not able to hold down any food.  My dad took me to the emergency room again and after multiple tests and scans, the doctors found a mass in my chest.  I was transferred to another hospital and after a 10 day stay and 2 biopsies, it was confirmed I had Lymphoma.

I didn’t get much time to absorb it all because we had to begin chemotherapy right away, but I initially did not take the diagnosis well.  I was in denial and just wanted to get back to school, sports, activities, and my friends and family.  I was also terrified of losing my hair, I was a 16 year old girl, and within 3 weeks of treatment all of my hair was gone. 


It took a few weeks to accept everything, and I honestly would not have been able to do it without my friends, family, and Matt.  My friends came to visit me and organized so many events at my high school to raise money and awareness.  All this helped push me to keep fighting after seeing all the love and support.  


My family pushed me even more to keep fighting and constantly cared for me, tended to my every need to make this tough time as comfortable as it can be.  My mom and dad especially, words cannot express how grateful I am for them.  My dad would carry me if it hurt to walk, or he would jump out of bed even if he just heard me call his name for help. 


My mother is more than just a mother to me.  She is my best friend.  My mom never left my side.  She stayed with me every night and dealt with the pain and suffering as I did.  If I could not eat, she would not eat.  She would run all over the hospital to find me what I needed at that moment.  She would lie in bed with me and rub my legs and my bald head until I fell asleep. 


When we were able to go home, she would go out and get me or cook whatever I was craving, even if it was in the middle of the night.  I would not be as strong as I am today without my parents unconditional love.  


Matt was another patient in the hospital battling Leukemia.  He stood over 6 feet tall, and he was only 14.  On my first day of chemo, he came in to hang out with me and answered all my questions, even the brutal ones where I was afraid of the answer. Matt and I became good friends, hanging out when we could in the hospital, and I consider him my mentor throughout this experience. 


Unfortunately Matt lost his battle, but he forever holds a special place in my heart, and I know he is watching over me.  All of these individuals were my inspiration throughout my fight, and I wouldn’t have stayed positive and strong without their love and support.

After 3 months of chemotherapy and 2 months of radiation, I became a cancer survivor on June 26th, 2009.  And I am proud to say that I am still cancer free after 4 years and 3 months.  


It was the most challenging time in my life, but I would never take it back.  This experience has changed me for the better.  I am more positive with life in general, and I appreciate everything that much more.  I felt love and support from so many people, even people I did not know, and I discovered courage and strength I never knew I had.

I still deal with medical issues here and there and go to the doctor frequently.  I also have a list of medical bills I am trying to pay off while being a full-time student.  Times get tough and stressful, but I know this is something that I must deal with for the rest of my life, and I have accepted it.  Each day that I wake up is a blessing.

The advice I would give to someone recently diagnosed with a medical condition is to simply stay positive and push away any negative thoughts.  Never think negatively or assume the worst.  I truly believe if you think negative then negative things will happen.  


Stay positive, despite the situation and what it entails.  Also, accept all the love and support that comes your way.  And finally, give back when you can.  Pay it forward, and help others like others have helped you.  Keep fighting!

Anyone who is fighting cancer, just remember, “YOU have cancer, cancer DOES NOT have you!” (:
Update - December 2015:
In May 2014 I went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Clinical/Counseling Psychology and a Minor in Sociology
Currently, I work at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center for Girls and Women as a Behavioral Health Specialist.  I was healthy and cancer free for 6 years following my initial diagnosis.
Unfortunately, a large tumor was found connected to my uterus in late September 2015.  In order to remove the tumor to see if it was cancerous, I had to have a total hysterectomy surgery on October 2nd, 2015 at the young age of 23.
On October 9th, 2015 I was diagnosed with localized Ewing's Sarcoma that began in the uterus, which is extremely rare.  Thankfully, my treatment team was able to remove the tumor before beginning treatment.  However, this second diagnosis calls for 14 rounds of chemotherapy and multiple hospital stays.  I have to be admitted for all 14 rounds of chemo therapy.
I am ready to beat this disease for a second time.  I could not get through this again without the outpouring of love and support from my family, friends, and others.  
This is not going to be easy, and it sure is not fair, but I know I can do this again with these amazing people by my side!  

-Nicole



More than 50% of the proceeds from all purchases made from February 16th, 2016 to February 29th, 2016 will be donated to Nicole to help cover her medical related expenses.

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2 comments

  • Stay strong Nicole! You will be in my prayers!

    Rebecca on
  • Keep fighting the good Fight Nicole. You’re an Amazing and powerful young Lady. Stay positive and continue to Smile. Inspiring others to remain calm and continue to fight as well.

    Steve on

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