A young woman who thought she had a pimple behind her ear was told on her 21st birthday that it was actually a cancerous tumour – and there’s no cure.
At an age where her friends are out having fun, travelling the world and starting their careers, Emily Foreman, 21, faces an uncertain future as she gets ready to begin treatment for a large cell undifferentiated carcinoma in her main salivary gland.
She first noticed a small lump behind her right ear early last year, which she originally thought felt like a pimple.
The early childhood teacher from Taranaki, New Zealand got the lump checked out several months later after it doubled in size.
After weeks of scans, she received the heartbreaking news she had the cancerous tumour.
Emily Foreman, 21, has a large cell undifferentiated carcinoma in her main salivary gland
Ms Foreman had a six hour operation to remove the tumour before she started radiation.
Despite the right side of her face being left paralysed, she thought she was on the road to recovery.
She had returned to work and was planning her 21st birthday party earlier this year when she got the heartbreaking news that a CT scan revealed the cancer had spread with multiple lesions across both of her lungs.
‘There was always that chance of the cancer coming back, but never in a million years did I expect this, or for it to happen so soon,’ Ms Foreman wrote on her Give A Little fundraising page.
‘This changed everything. Because the lesions were so small and spread across both my lungs surgery wasn’t an option, we were also unable to do radiation as this would damage my lungs too much.’
Emily and her mum Sarah (pictured together) were on a day trip looking for a dress for Emily’s 21st birthday when they got the news that the cancer had spread to Emily’s lungs
Her mother Sarah recalled the moment the a brutal but helpful oncologist delivered the devastating news.
‘He said ‘Emily, I don’t think I can cure you,’ Mrs Foreman told Stuff.
‘They don’t quite know what the tumours on her lungs will do – they know they’re not going to go away by themselves.’
Surgery wasn’t an option, nor was radiation.
What was possible was immunotherapy, a $60,000 10-week treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer, which Emily and her family will have to fund themselves.
It’s the only option available to Ms Foreman who hopes to start treatment in the coming weeks after a recent health setback.
‘The CT showed the the lesions had in fact changed and have started to grow,’ she posted on Facebook last week.
‘Because of this we are going to be needing to start immunotherapy sooner than we thought. We may be beginning this in the next 2-3 weeks or possibly sooner.’
They will have to pay the $700 administration fee for every treatment after the capped 10 weeks.
Brave Emily (pictured) remains positive about life, despite her uncertain future
‘If my body responds well to the immunotherapy then this is something that we can do indefinitely. This means we could be doing this for a long time; possibly even years,’ Ms Foreman states on the fundraising page.
‘Now the immunotherapy is not a cure, and will not cure me; currently there is no cure. But it should be able to prevent the lesions from growing and keep them at bay for as long as possible.’
‘Medicine is changing all the time and I am hopeful that one day there will be a cure but currently this is my best chance at keeping the cancer at bay until that cure is found.’
The Give A Little page raised almost $25,000 in four weeks.
Ms Foreman is publicly sharing her story to continue raising funds and has described the last 18 months as a rollercoaster journey.
‘I’m just so grateful and so fortunate that I can put my story out there in hopes to help others going through their own medical journeys ,’ she posted on Facebook on Saturday.
‘Honestly the support and generosity of everyone constantly goes to amaze me and I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone and anyone who taken part in this journey.’
An operation to remove a tumour last year left the right side of Emily’s face paralysed
She remains optimistic about her future.
I’m too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful and too determined to be defeated,’ Ms Foreman said.
‘If we didn’t go ahead with this, it would only be because my health has deteriorated quicker than we hoped.’
Her family is grateful for the support received from public on the fundraising page.
‘You do what you do; you’d sell your house and live in a tent if you had to,’ Mrs Foreman told Stuff.
‘But we don’t know what the future holds for Em.’
Emily’s only option is immunotherapy, which she hopes to start in the coming weeks