Jeff Stephenson, P.E., is the Team Leader of [...]
Just over a year ago, Sain employee, Lauren Nickles, was diagnosed with Extraskeletal Ewing’s Sarcoma. Since then she has undergone a rigorous treatment plan, and we were so happy that she was recently able to return to work. Here she shares what she learned throughout that journey.
When you have cancer, you should get your own secretary. Someone to take notes, make phone calls, set up appointments and scans and keep up with the whole process of fighting the illness. Although my family and I felt lost about what to do, we had great doctors and nurses at UAB and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. I was diagnosed on August 26, 2011 and started chemotherapy a few weeks later on October 13, which was a very long and emotional day.
Throughout the past year, there have been many more long days of treatment and a lot of anxiety, especially when I lost my hair. It was the weirdest feeling in the world to have no hair! My last treatment was June 14, 2012, and I was able to come back to work on September 4. I’ve tried to return to normal life as I regain my strength and deal with a lot of bone pain as my bone marrow comes back.
There is still a lot of anxiety juggling recovery, a husband and two kids. My daughter, Kate, is 3 ½ and Chace is 15 months. He was exactly 3 months old when I was diagnosed. That was the worst part, but in another way, it was good because I got to be with him so much during his first year. Both of my kids brightened my day when I was feeling down and helped me get through this along with my husband, Lyle, my mom, my aunt, other family members, friends, prayers and faith.
My work family at Sain was also a huge support. They visited with me during treatments, donated to my family, donated items for a fundraiser, called and texted. They were very supportive as a company, always asking if there was anything I needed that I wasn’t getting as far as medical services or insurance.
Coming back to work was hard because it brought up a lot of memories from when all this started. But I also learned that working makes me a better, whole person. Being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest job in the world! Being able to come to work at Sain where I can use my brain and my talents makes me proud and productive and it makes me a better mom when I’m at home.
The experience of having cancer also taught me a lot about marriage and relationships, as we struggled through a tough year. I had to completely rely on God and know he was in control. I made sure I was following his will and doing everything he would want me to do every step of the way.
I learned to accept things as they are instead of wallowing in self-pity. As a plaque a friend gave me says, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” That’s exactly what I had to do.
Thankfully, I’ve had so much help from family and friends. I could not have gotten through this process without them.
Over the next 5 years, Lauren will continue to have scans regularly – every 3 months for the first year, every 4 months for the next two and every six months for the last. After that she will be considered cured and will only need scans yearly for peace of mind.
Sain Associates, Inc., is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, with offices in Cullman, Alabama, Pulaski, Tennessee and Mandeville, Louisiana. Sain is a site engineering, traffic/transportation engineering and land surveying firm with experience in more than thirty states.