By now I am sure most of you have heard the shocking news about my daughter, Maressa. About two weeks ago, she was officially diagnosed
with Stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
For me, this has been one of strangest and most difficult things I have had to go through. I travel the country as a health advocate
and talking to people who are ill and injured, yet nothing could have prepared me for this.
Let me fill you in on what happened and where we stand now.
For those of you that don’t know, I have four children: Ashley, Maressa, Montel and Wyntergrace. Maressa is 24-years-old and is a very talented young lady. Starting when she was a little kid she used to play little nurse games and two years ago, she decided to pursue this passion and go to nursing school. Just this past summer, she transferred to a major University, where she could finish her studies and earn her degree. The day she got the acceptance notice to this program was the day that she found out that there was something going on that wasn’t a result from a minor injury.
Maressa had been experiencing some health symptoms
, but we thought they were from an incident over Labor Day weekend. Like a lot of kids, she was out with her friends, being a typical 24-year-old. They were out partying and at the end of the evening one of her friends in a joking way picked her up. While they were running across the parking lot, he tripped and fell and she slammed her back on the ground. She thought that she had whiplash and so she went to see her chiropractor. When a few adjustments didn’t help, she was sent for some X-rays then a CAT scan, which showed a large spot.
She was in the doctor’s office getting the results of the CAT scan when she had the doctor call me. He started saying, “I found a mass.” But I couldn’t process what he was trying to tell me; I thought he was referring to her discs. Then he went on to say that when they see stuff like this, they think lymphoma
, so they really wanted to do more tests right away. I lost it at that point.
I immediately switched from Dad mode to advocate mode. Advocate mode sent me immediately reaching out to friends of mine who are extremely well positioned in the medical field. I am sure any parent can relate to this willingness to do anything to get the best for your child.
The other thing I did was turn to the Internet. We all know the web
is one of the best things in the world, but it can also be one of the worst because you can’t hide from the information.
I learned quickly that Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is 90% curable. But that also means that 10% of people who have this do pass away. That for me, as a Dad, is very tough to swallow.
Right away, upon receiving the diagnosis, Maressa said she wanted to share her story
. When she went for further testing people in the building saw where we were going. They knew what it meant when we turned down the hallway leading to the cancer ward. No doubt, with my health history
, people were starting to think I had cancer.
Knowing my role and how open I have been in discussing my illness
, we knew someone was going to write about this. So Maressa decided she wanted to take the power into her own hands and openly announce her illness. I immediately called my good friend Mehmet Oz – or Dr. Oz – and asked if she could announce it on his show, which aired on Monday.
Words cannot describe how proud I was to sit next to her on that stage. It has been remarkable watching the way she is handling this – it reinforces my belief that she is going to be ok. It’s going to be tough but she’s going to get through this
and be even stronger.
I cannot thank you – my fans and supporters – enough for your continued support, well wishes and encouragement for my daughter’s healing. Your words, thoughts and prayers mean more to us than you know.
They have also touched and encouraged Maressa to continue to share
her journey. So I have given her her own space and blog here on the website, where she says she will be writing about the good, the bad and the ugly along the way.
And while she shares her perspective, I am going to also share mine. I will open up about everything from the emotional toll, what exactly I am doing to cope with all of this and how we feel our way this through these next few months, all in real time. I know there are countless people out there who are going through what I am going through, whether it is someone watching a loved one go through this battle, parents going through similar situations with their children, and even children going through this with a parent. I hope by sharing our family’s story
, it will in some way help others.