My caregiver journey began in 2005, when my husband found a lump on his neck and was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. After being admitted to the hospital for nine rounds of chemotherapy, he went into remission.
A year later we found out that his treatment had damaged his bone marrow, resulting in a leukemia diagnosis. His only hope for survival was to have a bone marrow transplant. Fortunately, his sister was a donor match and we spent five months living in Houston while he underwent the transplant. During this time, we had to leave family, friends and our jobs. The hardest part was leaving our 12-year-old daughter and only seeing her three times during our stay. Today, my husband continues to deal with side affects of the transplant, but thankfully remains cancer free.
Although my story fits neatly into a single paragraph, the journey has been long and arduous, but most importantly, life changing. A quote by Haruki Murakami says, “When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.” This sums up my caregiver experience. Throughout the cancer journey, it has been easy to see that cancer’s reach is far and wide. It is an equal opportunity offender and does not discriminate. This insight led me to pursue an active role in the support for cancer research and in helping families navigate their own cancer journey.
In my efforts to become more involved in the cancer arena, I had the pleasure of working for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). While there, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how the organization helps blood cancer patients and how funds raised support cutting-edge cancer research. LLS executives and employees are very passionate about their mission. For this reason, I continue to be involved in LLS fundraisers, such as Light The Night. My participation provides an opportunity to honor my friends and family affected by blood cancer and as a way to do my part in the “fight” against cancer.
Those affected by cancer (patients, caregivers, etc.) are all part of a club that they never asked to join. There is an unspoken kinship and understanding of the various hardships each “member” has faced. The upside to this is that these individuals can turn a negative into a positive by helping others who are still on their cancer journey. Most of us can't cure cancer, but we can do our part to help others whose lives have been affected by the disease.