As a Washington state trooper, R.S. Padgett is trained to write reports in “third person.” She opted to share her cancer story with us in this style.
In 2012, R.S. Padgett, a 44-year-old mother of two and a Washington state trooper just didn‘t feel right. She had always been very healthy and active, participating in bodybuilding, running, biking (170 miles a week) and eating a healthy and balanced diet. She was the epitome of strength and good health. Suddenly, though, she began to feel tired, run down and had a pain in her lower back. She started to lose weight, but ignored all these symptoms, telling herself “Who isn‘t tired and run down sometimes as they get older?”
Then while qualifying at the firearms range, she suddenly felt a shocking pain unlike anything she had felt before and it brought her to her knees. She was rushed to the local hospital in fear it was a heart attack. It took several weeks and many different doctors and specialists to figure out what was wrong. All the while, she became more and more ill and suffered from severe back pain.
Finally a conclusion was reached: she had a rare blood cancer known as multiple myeloma. By the time she received this horrific diagnosis, she was already in the hospital to control the pain. There, she discovered she had four crushed vertebrae in her lower back that were pressing on nerves. Her body began to shut down and the doctors recommended a medically induced coma to give her body a break. Her heart was getting tired, as it was beating 160 beats a minute; her lungs were struggling for air; and her kidneys and liver were starting to fail from the medications and the cancer. The doctors also informed her family that if she had not been in great physical condition, she would not have survived. She was placed into a coma and her back was repaired.
This was the turning point she needed to face a daunting situation. She began physical therapy and chemo at the same time. At first, this strong young trooper was barely able to walk, needed the assistance of a walker and was only able to lift 2 pounds. With the guidance of a physical therapist, determination and hard work she progressed to a cane and finally to walking on her own.
At this point, Padgett has been through many different chemotherapies, radiation treatment and three bone marrow transplants (two autologous and one allogenec unrelated donor) under the care of Dr. Leona Holmberg of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). She is currently under treatment by top Seattle hematologist Dr. Pamela Becker of SCCA. This year marks five years battling this devastatingly destructive cancer.
Many things have changed — strength and body image, to name a few. But this young mother of two is now 49 years old and continues to take life’s obstacles head on to achieve her goals and dreams. She believes anything is possible. The academy motto was, after all, “I will not give up, I will not die, I will survive.” This rings in her ears every day. Never give up!
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