Mom of 3 fighting cancer selected for Cancer Freeze
Published 12:23 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016
A McKenzie woman battling breast cancer has been selected as the final recipient for the 2017 Cancer Freeze.
Heather Odom, 31, said just a few months ago, she was a full-time wife, mom and LPN and now she’s fighting breast cancer.
“Dusty and I married on July 11, 2009,” she said. “He was my high school sweetheart and I had dreamed of this day for so long. We had often talked about this day, our careers and future children. We also talked about the good. We never imagined having to watch myself and our youngest son fight for our lives, and we never ever imagined we would be doing it all over again right at the one-year anniversary of what we thought was the worst thing we would ever have to through.”
Odom said she and Dusty have three sons – Kayden, 6, Karson, 3, and Kayson, 1.
“They are our biggest blessings,” she said. “On Mon., Aug. 31, 2015, I went into early labor with Kayson at 34 weeks. That whole morning all I kept saying was how we weren’t ready yet. His room wasn’t finished. We didn’t have everything we needed for him. We hadn’t prepared Kayden and Karson enough for his arrival.”
Odom said she droped Kayden off at school and told him she would see him when she got off of work. “Little did we know I wouldn’t see any of my boys for what seemed like forever,” she said. “Kayson was a perfect 6 pounds and 2 ounces, but he just wasn’t ready to be born yet. He was transferred to another hospital and put in the NICU to fight for his little life. I was discharged on Wednesday.”
Odom said she remembers fighting through the pain of having a C-section and trying to prepare herself to see her newborn son hooked to machines and tubes.
“It was overwhelming,” she said. “I was scared. I prayed so hard for my new little miracle and I was comforted by my favorite Bible verse Exodus 14:14, just be still. I whispered to him over and over, ‘Be still, the Lord is fighting for you. He has a purpose for you and a plan.’”
Odom said during that time, she felt that something was not right with her.
“The pain I was having was so much worse than the previous two C-sections,” she said. “Later that night I was rushed to the hospital with uncontrollable vomiting, nausea and the worst pain I had ever felt in my whole life. As the days progressed, I got worse and worse. I don’t remember much. I just remember the horrible pain, not being able to breathe and feeling like my heart was going to beat out of my chest.”
That Friday, Odom became septic.
“I had fought hard and prayed even harder, but my body was just too tired,” she said. “As I prayed, I was reminded again to just, ‘Be still, the Lord is fighting for you.’ That night I was rushed to surgery where they found I had a perforated bowel and had to remove a large portion of my large intestine. I remained on a ventilator for the next few days to give my body time to rest and try to heal.”
Odom said her husband was going back and forth between two hospitals, trying to be in two places at the same time, and just praying both she and Kayson would both be OK, along with trying to make sure their other two boys were taken care of back at home.
“Eighteen days later, Kayson and I were released on the same day and were finally heading home,” she said.
Fast-forward a year later.
“We were planning Kayson’s first birthday,” Odom said. “A few weeks prior I began to have some back pain. I pushed it off to just being a pulled muscle from picking up the boys. Mamas don’t have time to be sick anyways, right?”
On Aug. 9, Odom said she began to have unbearable back pain.
“I am a nurse for a nurse practitioner and when I got to work she worked me up to have a CT scan. From there, we had an MRI, which confirmed a mass, which was believe to be metastatic, and we went on to have a biopsy.
“I still remember the day we were told the results of the biopsy as if it were yesterday,” she said. “I just couldn’t comprehend what she was saying. As she said the words, ‘breast cancer,’ I immediately began to panic and cry. For the most part I just sat silent and cried as questions rolled through my head. ‘How?’ I hadn’t felt anything abnormal or anything I believe was abnormal. And I had no family history of breast cancer. I’m only 30. I’m too young for breast cancer. You aren’t even supposed to have a mammogram until the age of 40 unless you have a family history or abnormality.”
Odom said she asked, “Why? Why me? Why now?”
‘We were about to celebrate a year of good health,” she said. “A year of so many blessings. I have three boys who need me. Three boys I want to see grow up. A husband that I’ve spent most of my life with and want to grow old with. He needs me and I need him. I have friends and family that need me.”
Odom said after diagnoses, everything moved quickly.
“We were referred to Montgomery Cancer Center, where I underwent several tests and biopsies,” she said. “On Fri., Sept. 2, just five days before my 31st birthday, I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that is hormone receptor positive. I was confirmed the cancer was in my right breast, lymph nodes under my right arm, a tumor on T10, and a spot on my pelvic bone.”
Odom said the most worrisome was that the tumor on her spine was quickly deteriorating the bone and doctors were concerned about it collapsing.
On Sept. 14, Odom had surgery on her spine to remove what they were able to get of the tumor on T10 and to stabilize her spine so it would not collapse. She also began injections – one designed to help strengthen the bones affected by the cancer and another to stop her hormones to help keep the cancer from potentially spreading.
“I’m also taking Femara, which is a hormone-based chemotherapy to help treat the breast cancer,” she said.
Plans are also for her to take oral chemo and radiation.
“My battle with breast cancer has had some positive,” she said. “It has taught me to accept the help and generosity of others and not to fight alone. You do not have to fight alone. There are good people in this world and they are willing and wanting to be a blessing. It is such a huge blessing to be accepted as a recipient for the Cancer Freeze organization.”
Cancer Freeze is set for Feb. 4, 2017, at Lake Jackson in Florala.