Being a senior in high school can be a really exciting time of making college choices, playing in your final season of sports, and having a last hurrah with your friends before you part ways after graduation. Lauren was looking forward to playing volleyball, tennis, and volunteering with the Best Friends Mentoring program during her senior year. Unfortunately, a diagnosis of granulosa cell ovarian cancer immediately changed those plans.
Severe stomach pain led Lauren to go see the doctor. The doctor found a large cyst on her ovary and a large amount of free-floating fluid. After getting back from a mission trip to Puerto Rico, Lauren had a distended abdomen. Back at the doctor, Lauren had scans and tests done and was taken in for surgery to remove the cyst, along with 5L of fluid that was free in her abdominal cavity. Lauren spent one night in the hospital and as she put it “thought all the bad stuff was over”. Unfortunately, at a two-week follow-up appointment, Lauren and her mom received the devastating news. “Neither of us knew what to do so we both just sat there crying, trying to process the information”. Lauren’s family is no stranger to cancer, as her mom was diagnosed with and beat breast cancer when Lauren was 10 months old.
The process for treatment began in South Dakota three weeks after Lauren’s diagnosis. A second surgery removed the rest of Lauren’s cancerous ovary, and more testing to find out how far along the cancer was and if it had spread. Luckily, Lauren received good news that the cancer had not spread, even after how long the fluid was in her abdomen. Lauren has now finished five of six rounds of chemotherapy, and will continue to have vigilant monitoring with labs and imaging because this type of cancer tends to reoccur.
Lauren’s dad had heard of Make-A-Wish, and once Lauren found out that she was eligible for a wish she knew exactly what she wanted – a puppy! Lauren’s family had a yellow lab that passed away a few years ago, “Make-A-Wish was the only way I was going to be able to get a dog”.
Lauren’s wish came true with her whole family at a local steak and shrimp fry. Lauren and her family go every year and Lauren didn’t think it outside the ordinary to attend this year. However, Lauren’s wish granters wanted to make this an extra special night. With all her aunts, uncles, and older siblings in attendance, Finley was brought out to Lauren and she could not have been more surprised!
One of Lauren’s main goals has been to keep life as normal as possible going through her senior year with a life-changing diagnosis. Finley has been able to provide some normalcy, as well as being able to take her mind off of things after a long day, or after treatment. “He is always excited when anyone walks through the door and is ready to cuddle any time of the day. I don’t know what I would do without Finley”.
Not only has this wish been beneficial for Lauren, but her entire family has enjoyed Finley’s company. They say he has brought joy to their family during this difficult time, and has made going through everything more bearable. “He gives everyone something to smile about on the daily, we all love him so much”.
Lauren’s family said they will forever be thankful for the gift of Finley, and would like to thank Make-A-Wish for everything they have done. We are so grateful to Lauren and her family for sharing their story and allowing us to be a part of it.