Guest Blogger: Nicole Carter, Cancer Survivor, on Receiving Hope from the Hope Lodge

This past April, we had the pleasure of attending the American Cancer Society’s Key Gala in Boston, Massachusetts. While there, we met Nicole Carter, a young girl who found hope at the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge after moving to Boston to receive treatment for her cancer diagnosis. We are honored to welcome her as a guest blogger and commend her for sharing her amazing story of courage and strength in the face of uncertainty.

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One in a million. I’ve heard that saying, but quite frankly, I had never given it much thought until I became that one. My name is Nicole, 23, from Washington state, and this is how I became “one in a million.”

I was diagnosed in April 2012 with a sacral chordoma, an aggressive bone cancer, which affects literally one in a million people. With only 300 new cases reported annually, those diagnosed are truly one in a million. My diagnosis was a long process that included three biopsies and half a dozen scans before doctors in Seattle could diagnose me. Although excellent, the doctors in Seattle recommended that I seek the best treatment possible, which meant seeing specialists and receiving treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, over 3,000 miles away from home.

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At the Hope Lodge with all of my luggage.

How could I seek care that far away from home? Luckily, my oncologist in Seattle knew of resources through the American Cancer Society that could help me and my family bridge the distance between home and my needed care: Boston’s American Cancer Society AstraZeneca Hope Lodge.

Partners, the American Cancer Society and AstraZeneca help to provide cancer patients with assistance in the form of lodging and transportation to and from treatment. I had no idea the Hope Lodge would provide me with so much more than that!

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Walking in a park post surgery with my physical therapist, Melissa.

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Resting at the Hope Lodge.

The reality of my journey fighting cancer didn’t fully set in until midway through my first 90 day stay at the Hope Lodge. The warmth and welcoming nature of the Lodge was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life and was so integral to my treatment.

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My momma and I.

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My aunt and I crafting during my stay at the Hope Lodge.

When I was first diagnosed, I thought I would never in my lifetime meet another person with a chordoma. To this day, I’ve met over a dozen patients, from all over the world, with the same diagnosis as me, all thanks to the fellowship of the Hope Lodge. Although I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone, it was comforting to be able to share experiences with people who truly knew what I was going through, because they were going through it, too.

The American Cancer Society AstraZeneca Hope Lodge is a safe haven. The comfort of feeling safe and supported is such a huge part of being able to devote your energy to getting well. The Hope Lodge became a monumental part of my life and my journey to becoming cancer free and staying that way. This is what the Hope Lodge is all about: providing what you need, when you need it, in a peaceful and happy environment. That’s why, to me, the American Cancer Society is a beacon of Hope, it recognizes all cancers and gives the One in a Million a voice.

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My last day of treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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Ringing the “Bell of Hope” at the Hope Lodge. This is the sign of finishing treatment.

I give my sincere thanks to the American Cancer Society, the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge in Boston, and to Alex and Ani, for allowing me to share my story of how I came to know the meaning of One in a Million.

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At the 2014 Key Gala in Boston.

This post was written by Brendon Cunha