By Ann Miller Baker
It would be hard to top the birthday gift Dave Register of Madeira Beach got from his daughter Cori on Tuesday, June 26.
The photo, sent via text, came as he was grabbing a quick breakfast at home. Cori and her mom had left very early for Moffitt Cancer Center while he was still asleep, not even waking him with their birthday wishes. They knew they’d be getting Cori’s test results, an update on her cancer status now that chemotherapy and radiation for Ewing sarcoma were complete. Hoping for the best, Cori had secretly made a poster and stashed it in the car. It read: Happy B-Day Dad! I’m Cancer-Free!
“I’ve always been positive about beating this cancer,” says Cori, who first sought treatment when she noticed a lump in her neck and began having trouble breathing last November. She didn’t really connect it to the nerve pain she’d been feeling in her arm. An otherwise healthy 23-year old who worked out in addition to working in the family’s Key West Shrimp Company fishing business, Cori wrote the pain off as possible carpal tunnel syndrome – until the lump appeared. It was Ewing sarcoma, a rare cancer most commonly diagnosed in adolescents and young adults.
By the time she met with Dr. Damon Reed, leader of the Adolescent and Young Adult Program at Moffitt, the situation had become urgent. She started chemotherapy the next day. Her family and friends have supported her throughout the eight month battle, sharing photos of her undergoing chemo and radiation at Moffitt on Facebook and GoFundMe pages.
Shortly after Cori received the test results showing she was in remission on Tuesday, her mom took a photo of her holding the poster next to Moffitt’s entrance sign and texted it to Cori’s dad. Moments later, he posted the photo to Key West Shrimp Company’s Facebook page with the message, “Best birthday gift ever!!!”
So, how do you top that?
On Wednesday June 27, Cori returned to Moffitt for removal of the implanted medical device in her chest, called a port, through which all 42 chemo treatments had been administered. It’s a victory lap of sorts for cancer survivors – one last step in finishing treatment. From here on out, Cori will return to Moffitt every three months for scans to be sure she remains cancer-free.