The Nicki Leach Foundation
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Summit, New Jersey 07902
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Britney's Story

My name is Britney Hamilton and I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, in December of 2009. I made the decision that this diagnosis was not going to be a set back for me, academically, physically, or emotionally. My education was very important though I now had other priorities such as fighting this beast called cancer; my goal was to not allow my education be put on a metaphorical backburner in my life.

I was already in hospital homebound for other circumstances, therefore getting behind in my studies was never a possibility.

Throughout my cancer experience I have come across some good and some bad or unusual experiences. I have struggled through several unusual occurrences that many would find out of the norm. I have dealt with developing a blood clot in my port that traveled to my lungs causing pulmonary embolism. As a result my first port had to be removed and I was started on a steady dose of blood thinner injections. In one stage of the chemo therapy, the regimen called for weekly spinal taps. The spinal taps were responsible for elevated levels of methotrexate in my bloodstream; which led to a drug induced encephalopathy causing me to be in a coma like state for several weeks.

A surgery was set up so that they could remove the PICC line; place a port in a different location from the initial one and to place a feeding tube. At that time no one really new that my mind was starting to come around. When I woke up I had a brand new feeding tube and a new port. My muscles had muscular atrophy, and my whole left side had stroke like symptoms. My mom told me no matter what I went through once I started coming around I always had a smile on my face, this reassured me that even though I didn’t know it, I was continuing to fight.

The doctors decided there was nothing else they could do for me in the hospital, so they referred me over to an inpatient rehab facility. When I arrived at brooks I was not even able to hold my head up by myself. With the help of four weeks of intense therapy in Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital, I was slowly getting back on my feet but I have been doing rigorous therapy ever since March of 2010 to get back what I have lost. For a while the intense chemo regimen impacted how much progress I was making at first. I was making visits to the oncology clinic about twice every week, most of the time getting three to four bags of blood, which in turn limited my therapy days and endurance I had to perform during my therapy sessions. Most of the time, I averaged about ten total minutes of therapy in a one hour therapy session. Due to the fact that all of this was happening, I was and still am confined to a chair for most of the time outside of my home. Now that the chemo has slacked off a bit, as far as dropping my counts, I’ve been making leaps and bounds in the progression of my therapy. I still continue to have limited motion and control of my left hand, but I continue to work on mobility and fine motor skills.

I used to live only for the future and while that isn’t exactly a bad idea you never know what’s going to happen. Now I live for the moment. I’ve learned throughout my experience that anything can happen so it’s better to be on top of things and ahead. Rather than wait until the last minute and accidentally miss a deadline.
Throughout my journey, my family has been blessed through the assistance of foundations such as Tiny Sparrow, Borders of Love, and the Jay Fund. Each foundation chooses to do something to give the cancer patients hope to continue to fight. Because of these experiences, I hope to do the same to change someone else’s life through what I decide to do later in life. By working with or donating to foundations, or the American Cancer society I hope to make an impact on future cancer patient’s outlooks. I intend on making a difference in the cancer community, after college I hope I will begin on this dream of mine.

Now that I have finished high school it is time that I begin to start thinking about my future. I’ve applied, and have been accepted to attend Florida State College of Jacksonville. One thing that would assist me in succeeding in college would be a new laptop computer with Windows XP, Microsoft word 2010 or the latest version, and the Dragon Speech recognition software to assist me in writing papers, essays, and notes.

I would hope that this gift would allow me to be at the same level as other college students. Where they can easily type out an essay it would take me almost twice the amount of time; being as I have limited capability with my left hand and typically use just my right hand to save on time. The Dragon Software would allow me to speak what I want written, and it would compose the essay for me. I would deeply appreciate a gift from Nicki, your consideration for the appliances asked for to further my education, and become more independent. I am looking forward to the future and starting a career.