This girl has fought cancer four times, and the part that amazed us the most is that she is only 28 years old. Lauren Marler suffers an amazingly rare syndrome which raises your chances of developing cancer. This story is about her ups and downs, the support from her family, and… laughter.
Once she started experiencing the symptoms of this horrible syndrome, at the age of 15, she already knew that she was suffering from cancer (she could feel it). And, sure enough, after spending a couple of internet sessions on researching, she confirmed her fears. And, the worst part was, that this is only the start, of her long, long story… And despite the doctors telling her how unlucky she was, she’s still here with us and can tell her story to us.
The First Battle With Cancer
Back in 2005, the Texas girl saw that there was some blood in her stool, she was dead scared, and was too shy to tell anybody about her symptoms. She managed to keep it a secret for whole 2 years, and she knew she had to tell someone once her symptoms started getting worse. “I looked up my symptoms and knew I had all the signs for colon cancer. I freaked out but still couldn’t tell my mom face-to-face, so I wrote her a letter, telling her I knew I had cancer. My mom thought I was overreacting, and even the doctor she took me to said it was constipation.” Her symptoms didn’t stop even after a high-fiber diet. That’s when the doctors performed an endoscopy only to confirm her fears. She had developed colon cancer.
“When I woke up, my mom looked like she had just seen a ghost. The doctor who performed the tests was crying. She said she had never seen a case as bad as mine, and that I needed to get to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center immediately,” she remembers. At the University she met with MD, FACS, FASCRS, Miguel Rodriguez-Bigas, who decided the best thing to do is to remove Marler’s colon and the greater part of her rectum. Leaving just enough so that she could retain her digestive functions.
Oh No, Not Again!!
Not a year has passed, when the symptoms returned along with the cancer… “When my mom told me, I was cleaning my room. I just felt like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I just want to be a normal kid.’” After beating cancer one more time with 90 days of Chemo and radiation, she thought that her fight with this disease was over and that she had won.
But, when she went to a routine scan, which should’ve ensured her that she was still in remission, the then 23 years old, heard the words she thought she’d never heard again in her life. She explained “I was at work and the doctor called to tell me that the scan showed a spot in my uterus. A biopsy of the polyp revealed it was endometrial cancer, and an aggressive one. We went back to MD Anderson to meet with Pedro T. Ramirez, an MD, who recommended a full hysterectomy. “Luckily, that time, the cancer was contained to the polyp, so I didn’t need chemotherapy,”.
Baffled by her story, the Doctor decided to run some genetic tests. And this is when she found out the worst news in her entire life. She was suffering from a rare disorder known as CMMRD (constitutional mismatch repair deficiency). The Dr. explained to her how her body is making her susceptible to different types of cancer. Namely, her body couldn’t repair the cell mutations leading to cancer.
The genetic tests showed that both her parents were suffering from Lynch Syndrome. This is a mutation in the PMS2 gene which meant that they were predisposed to different types of cancer. And, once the teen got the two parts of the gene, it spelled disaster for her. The worse news was that there isn’t a way to treat this problem, you can only take preventive medicine.
“It’s heartbreaking, but at least I have an answer. Less than 100 people in the United States have it, and I’m one of them.”
The Deadly Disease Has Returned
Three years after the awful findings, she felt bad, nauseated, and she couldn’t shake a sinus infection (at least that’s what she thought.) “I just keep coughing—I felt awful. I was nauseated and running a high fever. The ER gave me medication for the nausea and advised me to take Tylenol for the fever.” And, when the next morning Marler couldn’t get up because of the excruciating pains she felt, her mother knew that there was something more than just a sinus infection.
And once again this was bad news for the 28 year old Marler. The Doctors scanned her and found a suspicious spot on a lymph node. They decided to fly her back to MD Anderson. “I couldn’t believe it was happening again. The biopsy showed that it was lymphoma, one of the hardest types to treat. The doctors told me the treatment was going to be so grueling that I would hate them by the time it was over. They were right.” She went over six types of chemo at the same time. She was spending six days of every other week in the hospital. One of the chemo therapies was delivered through Marler’s spinal cord. “I was so weak I couldn’t get off of my couch. I lost all of my hair, and I had severe body aches,” said Marler.
How is She Now?!
Now, she is still in remission, she knows how serious it is and that she shouldn’t take it for granted. She came out from all four battles with cancer with a smile on her face, and she says that her family is the main reason for this. “I laugh a lot. That’s one thing my family does really well—we can find the humor in any situation. I’ve always found a way to laugh. I do worry about what’s next, but I can’t let it consume me. I’ve learned to live with it.”
The young teen has to tell something to all of you young people out there who feel embarrassed to try and ask for help because of the uncomfortable symptoms: “Find a way to get the help you need—you have to tell someone. Even if it’s writing a letter as I did, find someone you’re comfortable with that you can tell. If I had waited longer, I would have died in my 20s. Find a way to get help.”