A cancer diagnosis throws patients into a frightening world, facing choices they never imagined.
A Pensacola, Fla. woman faced one of the most difficult decisions of her life when she got a rare diagnosis and learned there were different opinions on the best way to treat her cancer.
As a strength and conditioning specialist, Olivia Goodman knows how to push hard.
That's how she beat breast cancer four years ago, enduring chemotherapy that wracked her body and chipped away at her sanity.
Goodman recalled, "That's when you get that kind of downward spiral almost and just wow, I don't have any control over this, and I've had some pretty dark days in all that."
This summer, Olivia and her family got awful news. The breast cancer was back, spread through her body. And she has a rare blood cancer called mantle cell lymphoma.
Her oncologist recommended aggressive chemo. Olivia had doubts. She said, "I didn't want to go through all that again, I didn't want the harsh, toxic stuff in my body again, I know what that feels like and I didn't want that in my body again."
She researched and got a second opinion from a specialist in Boston, who recommended a type of immunotherapy.
Two completely different treatments, with her life hanging in the balance.
Olivia remembered, "I think that weekend was probably the worst weekend of my life because you've got brilliant people telling you one thing, you've got brilliant people telling you another thing and they're both right."
Olivia wanted quality of life, not just to be alive. She chose the less harsh immunotherapy. Now she's back in the gym, just three months after being unable to walk or dress herself because of the pain.
She made the right choice for her, and the early results have her walking on faith toward the future. Olivia said, "I hope I get to grow old with my husband, I hope that other people see that regardless of whatever life hands you, you can beat it, you can do it, you can get through it."
Olivia will have a scan next week to check her progress. She finished her fourth round of treatment on Tuesday and says the numbers were improved from her last visit.