In November 2013, after experiencing several severe nose bleeds, I was diagnosed with a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer called Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia. It was in stage IV and I started chemotherapy treatments immediately.
When I was 25 years old, I started my new, dream job as a health and physical education teacher. Six days into the school year I went for a CT scan after months of complications with my breathing. I got the results later that day while I was on my lunch break. The doctors had found a 10.5 cm tumor sitting in my chest and just millimeters away from cutting off blood circulation to my brain. I was told to rush to the ER but not to panic. Well of course I panicked, and left work in shock.
Three months into my husband’s yearlong deployment to South Korea, Captain Matthew Marggraf started noticing a painless lump forming on the side his neck. Thinking it was just his body adjusting to its new environment he thought nothing of it. When he visited home for two short weeks for our wedding and honeymoon in October we noticed the now golf ball sized lump. They urged him to get it checked out as Hodgkins lymphoma ran in his family.
Emily, a 32-year-old mother of three young children, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in August 2013. After a whirlwind of intense treatments over the next two years including chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant and months of hospitalization, Emily relapsed soon after each treatment. In January 2015, Emily was given a devastating prognosis – doctors said she had six months to live.
In the summer of 2016, I wasn't feeling like my usual energetic self and felt tired all the time. Initially, I attributed my tiredness to my busy life as a wife and mother with a full-time job outside the home. Some of my other symptoms were weight loss, night sweats, and a persistent feeling that something was always stuck in my throat.
In February 2015, my daughter Danielle was diagnosed with leukemia. She was 25 years old, and a professional dancer out on tour in Detroit when I got the call no mom ever wants to hear. She said, "Mom are you sitting down? The doctor says I have leukemia". Just typing this makes my heart sink.