acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
Manalapan, NJ United States
I am now a two-time acute myeloid leukemia (AML) survivor. When I was diagnosed with AML, it was an absolute complete shock. At the time of my diagnosis, I was a stay-at-home mom to my then three-year-old son. In a matter of a few hours and three words, “You have cancer,” my life completely turned upside down.
Luckily, my hospital had an amazing social worker who had reached out to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and the next day I had an LLS representative come to my hospital room to talk to me. I'll never forget how gracious and kind she was. I remember just crying and being so vulnerable, but this wonderful woman just sat there with me for what felt like hours. She handed me tissues and listened to my every concern. I was so thankful for LLS.
Between all the books and educational reading they had given me, I learned a lot about my type of cancer, and I learned about the kind of help LLS could give me. I called the hotline and said, “I need help financially,” and I was told there was help.
LLS truly made me feel like I could take a deep breath. The questions I had were being answered, and I was getting the help I needed. Between grants and co-pay assistance, LLS made it possible for me to afford my prescriptions and keep a roof over my son’s head. I am forever grateful for that.
My cancer journey was not an easy one. I, unfortunately, had AML twice, but when I relapsed with cancer, I knew who to call. LLS was there for me in so many ways. Throughout my journey with cancer, I became more and more interested in what LLS was all about. I learned that they had peer-to-peer support where I was able to talk to someone who had the same kind of cancer that I did. Having that connection with someone was very helpful for me. A lot of times you feel alone in your cancer journey, and finding a network that connected me to someone who understood what I was going through was a game changer for me. So much so, that when I was able to, I became a volunteer for the LLS peer-to-peer support program, and I absolutely love helping other cancer patients in any way that I can.
I feel like LLS gave me a voice that I didn’t know I had or needed. When receiving medical care, a lot of the terms the doctors use can be intimidating and hard to understand. But because LLS had provided me with so many reading materials, I was able to understand some of the terminologies the medical staff used, and from there, I felt like I was able to understand and communicate with my doctors. It made me feel powerful.
I learned a lot from LLS. Not only medical terminology, but I learned that it was okay to ask for help. I was very depressed when I was diagnosed with cancer. I had to leave my child behind. That abandonment tore me apart and gave me the worst feeling in the world. I knew I was anxious all the time, wondering what was going on at home and how my son was. Every minute of every day I would worry. I called home as much as I could, but those phone calls weren’t always the best. My son, who didn’t know why he woke up one day and his mommy was gone, would cry and beg me to come home. I remember one phone call in particular when my son asked me if I loved him anymore. Cancer took away not only my health but the bond that I had with my son.
Although I have been dealt the cancer card, LLS has made my cancer journey as uncomplicated as they could. Because of how amazing LLS is, in 2020, I was nominated as an Honored Hero for my county, and in 2022, I was nominated for Woman of the Year. Through everything I had been through, I learned how to advocate for myself through the knowledge I had been given from LLS. Instead of spiraling into a deep depression and feeling sorry for myself, I started voicing my opinions and concerns. I asked questions, and I was given answers. I felt like a superwoman. Luckily for me, LLS was always there when I needed them. They truly were a phone call away. Throughout everything I was going through, I knew that I had people I could depend on. LLS became like a family to me. I truly believe in their mission, and I hope one day to see a world without blood cancer.