Shannon Gray is a 27 year old Registered Nurse who has spent the first year of a promising career unable to work while fighting Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. After weeks of feeling short of breath, a chest x-ray and CT scan revealed a cantaloupe-sized mass growing in her chest, invading into her lung. This was in November 2016, the same day she received her nursing license in the mail. She underwent invasive diagnostic procedures which ultimately confirmed her fears that she was battling an aggressive form of cancer.
Despite the shocking news, Shannon met this challenge with a positive attitude and was hopeful, being quoted 80-85% cure rates. She endured 6 cycles of intense chemotherapy over the winter, and fought through the numerous side effects that come along with it. Shannon even had the pleasure of ringing in the new year in the hospital due to an episode of febrile neutropenia. Although this period took a toll on Shannon and her loved ones, throughout all of this she could still be seen smiling, playing with every animal in sight, skating circles around her boyfriend, and beating him repeatedly at (some very close) ping pong games. Headscarves became the new thing to spend hours in front of the mirror fretting over, and yoga provided a temporary escape. In April 2017 she was feeling ready to move on from this chapter and resume her career as a Registered Nurse, hoping to give back to the field of oncology which had helped her.
Unfortunately, cancer had other plans, and her first post-treatment scan on May 4 showed growth of the mass when compared with the midway scan. For whatever reason this means she did not respond to the chemotherapy as hoped. She is now considered refractory lymphoma and has been started urgently on so-called "salvage" chemotherapy with the hopes to get her to an autologous stem cell transplant. This chemotherapy is much harder on Shannon's system, and the stem cell transplant will require her to be admitted to the hospital for up to a month in isolation. While Shannon and the medical team remain optimistic and hopeful, the situation has become much more serious than previously thought. "Doing this on her own" has been a source of pride for Shannon, but the circumstances have reached the point where support from others would help make a significant improvement in her life.
Shannon worked extremely hard to become a RN, graduating with honours and winning the award for highest clinical grade during her surgical rotation. While pursuing her studies, Shannon accumulated significant student debt which keeps growing while she is unable to work. She has been forced to relocate between Calgary and Winnipeg multiple times due to changes in her medical situation, while various other unforeseen expenses have popped up and continue to accumulate. Members of her immediate support network have also taken time off work to be with her through this. Shannon is still many months away from being in a position where she can resume working as a nurse, a goal which keeps her motivated every day.
Any financial support would give Shannon some breathing room and allow her to get back to some semblance of normal life. She refuses to let this illness define her, and still has goals she wants to achieve and places she hopes to see. Any support you can provide, either by donating, sharing this campaign, or both can be considered an investment in a caring, compassionate person who always puts others ahead of herself and will be paid forward with interest when she is back on her feet doing what she does best: helping others.