Dawna Robyn Britnell donated her hair for her friend. Make up by Jill Maria Robinson, KGTV Filmed it
Back story of your passion and work before you were sick:
March 2014 I made the move back to Calgary, my home town, after a 3 year adventure in the fast paced city of Toronto. I had always wanted travel, adventure and independence and life in the big city gave me lots of that plus time to grow up. I was ready for some stability and a flirtatious relationship with a long time friend had turned into something very real that I no longer wanted to run away from. With the help and support of many a friend and family member I landed nicely on my feet and within the first year I got my dream job as a flight attendant with West Jet Encore! Everything was coming up Robyn, I was close to my mom, had a great job, a strong relationship, a loving room-mate, and lots of exciting plans on the horizon. Best of all I felt grounded and balanced and began a yoga routine, walking became a normal part of my daily life again, I was even talking to a nutritionist in order to eat right and get in shape!
What happened when you found out about your cancer?
It was actually in March that I found myself at a walk in clinic with a case of strep throat, a common illness in my life and no surprise after such a hectic month of moving. What concerned me was the lump in my neck that did not go away after a few months. An ultrasound came back with nothing to report so I never questioned it beyond that. The fatigue, sinus problems, and itchy dry skin had to be due to the stress of a new job and weird hours, right?! A few months into my new routine though I was on a flight and realized the swelling in my neck was so bad I could not turn my head to the left and soon after a flu bug knocked me out for 2 weeks. My body was telling me something was wrong and I finally got myself to a family doctor who sent me straight in for a needle biopsy closely followed by a surgical biopsy along with CT scans, PET scans, blood work and lots of other poking and prodding.
February 16th I received the news that I did in fact have Hodgkins Lymphoma, stage 2. I was assured this was positive news as it is very treatable. My doctor said it is unlikely I would be in as good of shape as I was in if those lumps back in March had really been the cancer, so perhaps that was just an advance warning sign. Whatever it was though I wish I had paid more attention to what my body was trying to tell me. Only I know me, and I learned through this that I need to advocate for my own body. When something feels wrong I go ahead and ask questions now!
What has your treatment been how long?
Treatment was hardcore! I immediately went into a biweekly intravenous chemotherapy treatment. It was approximately a 2 hour process where 4 drugs were slowly fed into my veins. They called it ABVD which simply stands for the 4 different drugs they used. The actual process wasn’t all that bad. I have to give a huge shout out to the nurses at Tom Baker as their smiling faces, and amazingly upbeat and genuine attitudes made every visit a pleasant one. I would have fun chatting with them throughout the treatment and as a biology nerd I appreciated how much info they were willing to give me and all the questions they were able to answer. I just finished my 8th chemotherapy treatment, which spanned over the last 5 months, and as it stands I am not in need of any additional Chemo or radiation! Yay!
How are you doing now?
I am one week into the healing process and my attitude and excitement for the future has not changed one little bit. My body is still tired, and weak, and confused. I still feel very much out of control of my own body and I think the reality of it all is just starting to set it. I went into fight mode, and perhaps a bit of shock, but now that it is done and I can start focusing on getting my life back together it all seems much more real. I have never been so thankful for our amazing health care, or the amazing people I have surrounded myself with, not to mention the incredible people I continue to meet do to this process! So I guess over all I am doing pretty darn amazing!! I just fought a great fight and now I am ready to start kicking ass with a new outlook!
What is the lesson or something you want to share with your supporters?
It seems everyone wants to hear some life changing story, I get that, I really believe in taking positive out of every negative situation, but I can’t say this experience really helped me in a big way. I was already making big changes and taking life seriously! I didn’t need an illness to remind me how short life is or how fragile I am as a human. I am incredibly amazed at the way our bodies work, all the amazing things they can do, and how incredibly beautiful this world is. Perhaps I could say this, Cancer showed me that asking why will only lead you in circles. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, sometimes the pattern doesn’t match, and sometimes the hardest things we deal with make us into stronger and more wonderful people. It is hard to say though, I battled anxiety and depression as a teenager and young adult and the lessons I learned and strength I gained from that is honestly what got me through this I am sure. Take care of yourselves, mentally and physically. Listen to your bodies, take a break when you need it, be gentle with yourselves and replace why with hows, and when and where, because all those things you want to do are doable, you just need to figure out how when and where they will get done. Don’t wait for cancer to change your life, be happy and then if life decides to throw something like an illness at you can just laugh at it cause you already know you got what it takes.
What your future plans are?
Now it is all about getting myself back into the groove of life with everyone around me. I am excited to get back to work in the fall and continue growing and learning and kicking butt! 😉
Robyn Murphy is now happy and doing well, her hair is growing back and she looks beautiful as ever! -April 2016