Nancy Hallberg was first diagnosed 16 years ago with indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma before LLS-funded research helped develop the drug that put her into remission – or as close to it as she’ll ever get. She is now the chief marketing officer for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
I find a lump in my groin. On the left side. It doesn’t hurt or look red or feel warm. It is just there. One week, two weeks, a month. It doesn’t go away.
I call for an appointment with my regular (and wonderful) internist, whom I’ve seen for years in a group practice I’ve used forever. She is on vacation, so I am seen by a covering internist I’d never seen before. “An ingrown hair, most likely. Use a fresh blade when you shave. Nothing to worry about. Next patient please.”
Okay, good answer. Phew. I won’t worry. Yet. 3 months later and it’s somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball – unmistakably a lump that doesn’t belong there. It still doesn’t hurt, but I can see it protruding when I look down at my toes, and know that’s not right. Time to worry.
Back to my regular internist who – unknown to me – had done her residency in oncology at Sloan Kettering. She takes one look and sends me to a surgeon to schedule a biopsy for the next week. Seven days to wait. Seven long days with the search term “lump in groin” leading to all sorts of dreadful online horror stories about painful infections – which this clearly is not. A whole week to imagine the worst, and try to hide it all from my husband and two young daughters (at that time ages 14 and 8). A week at work pretending it’s just a “minor procedure.”
Lynne Smith is a CML survivor, LLS blogger and former journalist who is thankful for every post-diagnosis day. This blog is the third in a series.
If you want to get technical, I have cancer. At least I think I do. I was diagnosed eight years ago with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and while there are no longer any signs of disease in my bone marrow, this is a condition that never really goes away. The cancer-causing enzymes keep firing and my daily Gleevec pills continue pummeling them into submission.
I like to think of myself as a cancer survivor, but dare I be so cocky? Not only do I not want to tempt fate, but it feels a bit like I’m staking claim to a territory I’m not fully entitled to. After all, I didn’t go through bouts of chemotherapy and extensive hospital visits, lose my hair, and give up months (or years) of my life. All I did was start taking a pill once a day and master the art of living in a suspended state of disbelief.
Since my diagnosis in 2006, I’ve slowly moved out of the “Oh my God!” phase and settled into a mindset more along the lines of Doris Day’s: “Que Sera Sera.” The world does look a little scarier from where I stand but I try to accept the fact that there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. I tell myself every day that things could be a whole lot worse.
Part 1 of a guest blog by a chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) survivor who was diagnosed at age 18.
I arrived at college in September, barely legal, but fully ready to live out the Hollywood higher education stereotype. I was fighting a cold but didn’t let that stop me from attending every party I could. The revelry lasted until October, when the “cold” was diagnosed as chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
I went to the university health center on suspicions of mono, and the next thing I knew I was on the oncology floor of a Boston hospital. My mother flew in from Texas just in time for my diagnosis. Several doctors sat me down, gave me the news, and then looked at me expectantly. I tried to seem unemotional and think of questions to ask, but really just wanted to be left alone.
A constant stream of visitors was a blessing, but also meant that I had to fake acceptance and understanding to make others comfortable. It took me several weeks to comprehend that my version of the ideal college experience—fraternity parties, boyfriends, spring break trips—would not be happening.