My name is Zebrina Lauridsen. I am 24 years old, and I am the mother of a beautiful 2 year old little girl. I was born and raised in the smack-dab in the middle of the US, Joplin, Missouri. I graduated from cosmetology school, and worked in a salon for a few years. Then I got pregnant and got promoted to the best job ever of being a stay at home mom. I enjoy photography, all things beauty, NBA (go Mavs!), and of course raising my daughter.
I was diagnosed with EHE after my daughter was born, in January 2017, after years and years of me wondering what the large lump on my neck was. I went to multiple doctors who all told me the same thing. It was nothing to worry about, just swollen lymph nodes. I started having severe shooting pains through my neck, and I could barely move my head from side to side. Then I started losing all feeling in my left arm, and I couldn’t even pick up my tiny newborn. Enough was enough. I went back to my doctor and demanded that he do something. They gave me a cat scan, and couldn’t believe what they saw. Our small town couldn’t do anything for me, so they sent me to KU Medical Center. Long story short, I was there for multiple days and they misdiagnosed me with Osteosarcoma. I decided to get a second opinion at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. That’s where I found out that I had a tennis ball sized tumor on my c3-c5 vertebrae, wrapped in my spinal cord. They were sure that it was EHE. Although they have seen this cancer before, there wasn’t much they could tell me about it, so I started doing my own research. It’s scary that this type of cancer you can’t really google. The diagnosis made me feel like my world was crashing down. I didn’t know if I would get to see my daughter grow up. Then I found The EHE Foundation, and it helped me in so many ways. It answered questions that my doctors didn’t know the answer to. It gave me peace of mind knowing that I wasn’t alone.
What I find most challenging about EHE is that we don’t have a set treatment, yet. What works for someone doesn’t work for everyone. I have had many failed treatments, and now I’m on the wait and see method. Another challenging thing is that not a lot of doctors know about EHE, so you have to travel for the best treatment. Traveling can be hard when you need to be saving money, and when you have a tiny baby who hates the long car rides. The last thing that I think that makes EHE difficult is that it is often a cancer that doesn’t make you “look sick.”
The EHE foundation is important to me because it is helping spread awareness. It gets patients on the path to the correct treatment. It also helps host a support group for everyone to come together. I hope The EHE foundation can help future patients when they hear the word cancer to know there is hope. If you are thinking of donating or volunteering to The EHE foundation know that you are not only helping patients, but families. The more knowledge the world has on EHE the faster we can find a treatment plan for the many people battling and hopefully help ease or possibly eliminate future battles.