CHESTERMERE – When Carly Fulmes was asked if she would make a speech to her fellow Chestermere High students about how her experience with cancer, she agreed to write the speech, but only if someone else would read it for her.
It was nervousness that made her turn down the opportunity initially, but the more she thought about it, the more she felt like she should do it herself because the words would mean more coming from her.
So, she got to writing and prepared a piece to read aloud to the student body at the Sept. 30 Terry Fox Run. In her speech, Fulmes didn’t go in to too much depth about defeating Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but instead chose to talk more about how it affected her family, the people she met, her experience overall, and why the Terry Fox Run is a good event to support every year.
“I finished the speech off by saying how important it is to keep raising money because it helps the families that are going through it to realize there’s hope, even when it doesn’t feel like there is,” Fulmes, 16, said. “I don’t mind public speaking, I’m okay at it, but I enjoy telling people (my story) because there might be someone listening who is in a situation where it might help them.
“You always hear about people who don’t get through it or end up staying stick for a long time. I was only in treatment for six months and it was over, so I think sometimes it’s good to talk about a good ending.”
Fulmes found out that she had stage three lymphoma during the first week of summer vacation when she was 12-years-old. They discovered that it was cancer about a month after they discovered a lump on her clavicle.
She went through four rounds of chemo in order to get rid of the cancer completely. She spent long days and nights being sick and having severe bone aches. Fulmes also lost all of her hair, but her mom, Roberta, said that she took it all in stride.
“She was very brave about it,” she said. “As soon as it started falling out, we shaved it, because she didn’t want patches.
“Everyone in the family came together and helped shave it, we all just stayed positive.”
Fulmes said that there were both good and bad days with her treatment.
“The first few days after chemo would always be really bad and I’d be really sick, and there’d be other days where I was better and I’d be sitting there doing my homework,” she said.
Fulmes was able to keep up with school and get assignments done although she was in treatment, and she said that when she was finally cancer-free she was more than ready to go back to school.
Fulmes said that the main thing she gained from her experience with lymphoma was that she should never take anything for granted, and to take everything one day at a time.
Roberta agreed, saying “It gave us perspective. The little things aren’t as devastating as you might have thought there were before, but at the same time we appreciate the little things.
“We know now that you can get through anything if you put one foot in front of the other. We’re thankful and grateful every day that everything worked out.”
Fulmes said that she might speak out about her experience more often in the future, granted she improves on her public speaking. She spoke once before, but to the students at Chestermere Lake Middle School, which she said was less intimidating. Overall, she said taking this opportunity to speak out at the Terry Fox Run at CHS was a good decision.
“I think a lot more people might not understand necessarily, but they might realize that it can hit pretty close to home,” she said. “I think that puts thing in perspective a little bit more.
“Plus, Terry Fox is so important because of the fundraising. It provides funding so that a cure can be found and can change and save peoples lives. When you save those people, you’re saving their family’s lives too.
“It gives people hope.”