“Friday April 19th is a date that has been permanently engraved in my brain… I…recall awakening in the early morning hours, my sheets drenched and wet clothes sticking to every inch of my shaking body…I pulled off my wet and cold shirt, and it seemed tighter…Slowly at first and then more quickly, my hands scoured my neck. Yes, a dramatic change had occurred, almost overnight. A hard mass, the size of an egg, was now embedding into the left side of my neck….”
At 14, Kimberly Zuba [now Morse] had just started as a high school freshman when night sweats and flu-like symptoms began. Her perfect attendance record was tarnished by repeated absences and visits to the pediatrician. After the fifth visit, blood work confirmed that she had the Epstein-Barr virus. Yet by the beginning of April, after months of night sweats, the mass appeared on her neck.
My parents had left for work…my grandmother…[took] me to the pediatrician for the last visit of that kind….The words my doctor spoke are still clear in my mind to this day. “Call her parents out of work immediately,” he stated to my grandmother.
[Now] it was my opportunity to turn and face him, vocalizing the thoughts that had lingered in my heart and mind all along. “I have cancer.” His eyes filled with tears…”It is highly likely that you do.”
Kimberly takes us through her journey of change after her diagnosis with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, including allthe embarrassment and self-consciousness that are part of being a teenager. Meeting other teens and young adults with cancer normalizes her experience, broadens and enriches her life in extraordinary ways. Losses and grief as well as true joy are part of her story. Finally, she arrives at her present: a wife, mother and practicing physician’s assistant, living with late effects of the treatment that saved her life.
Her book, Chasing My Tomorrow, is available on Amazon. Kimberly reminds us that
“Each year more than 70,000 young adults continue to be diagnosed with cancer; six times the amount of cases in children from newborn to fourteen. Children and young adult cancer survivors have a unique set of issues, they…fortunately are living longer, but with an extended life expectancy comes potential secondary complications. Currently one in every 100 collage students is a young adult survivor and I have no doubt that all could benefit from ongoing financial and emotional support. This statistic is alarming. We need to do better.”
She intends to donate the proceeds of her book to help young adult cancer survivors chase their tomorrows with educational grants, infertility assistance, mental health and generalized wellness help.
Her readers have given the book 5 stars. Here is one review: “Most touching and real book I have ever read…I would recommend this book to any mom, friend, or person who has help support a loved one. K. Zuba is a wonderful author and I’m proud to have read this! Amazing!”