A Vancouver woman is trying to stay hopeful after she received heartbreaking news just two weeks ago following what she thought was just a dizzy spell due to low iron.
Aimee Cox’s initial bloodwork revealed some concerns, and more tests followed in just a few days. By late November the new mother of an 11-month-old daughter says the doctor told her it was not the results they were hoping for.
The 37-year-old was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. The cancer had metastasized to the liver, and a test revealed she had also tested positive for a rare protein which impacts chemotherapy response, called BRAF-V600E mutation.
So Cox says she only has two options, “either fight or I give up” — and she firmly says she is fighting.
Her 11-month-old baby girl Reese and partner Elliot are among her biggest reasons to keep going.
While Cox is set to start chemotherapy in Vancouver, doctors have already told the family to be prepared for what’s ahead – which is why they are already looking at clinical trials in the United States and Europe.
In order to fund those trials, Cox’s sister set up an online fundraiser. But the family didn’t imagine they would receive such a huge response.
Elliot Kibby, her partner, says each donation to the online fundraiser just feels like they are giving the family more time together.
“That’s all I really want, that’s all I’m fighting for,” he says. “For each and every day that Aimee gets to spend with her daughter. Each and every day that her daughter gets to spend with her mother.”
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Cox says she doesn’t have words to describe how important it is for her daughter to know her.
“Kids don’t remember anything [before] four years old is potentially the earliest memory that you carry as an adult. And she’s 11 months old. Like, if this doesn’t work like there’s no memory there,” Cox says.
“I really am indebted to everybody,” she says, adding that those who are also battling cancer have reached out to offer their support.
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Cox is a fixture in East Vancouver’s hair styling community and says the pandemic had already set her back financially. Now with this cancer fight, it’s been an incredibly stressful time but she is trying to look to the future.
“What I’m learning is that there are only so many avenues for this gene mutation or trials for this gene mutation that are available. Being a small business owner I opened up in 2019 six months before the shutdown and COVID happened… I’ve put everything I had into the business,” she says.
“I have so much that I still want to do. There’s so much I wanted to create. COVID slowed me down so much with my business and what I wanted to build in the community around me and sharing people’s beauty and like really allowing people to feel loved and beautiful,” she added.
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Despite everything, Cox says she’s a fighter and she is hoping her story inspires others to advocate for their own health.
She says “nothing was alarming” and was otherwise in good health, had no history of colon cancer in her family, and if it wasn’t for the blood test and an amazing nurse practitioner she says this might have gone unnoticed for even longer.
In BC, typically those between the ages of 50 to 74 who are experiencing no symptoms should be screened for colon cancer, according to BC Cancer.
To learn more about colon cancer, head to the website.