Larry Loose, a great big bear of a man with a penchant for classic cars, off road racing, dirt bikes and living large. This man, my husband of twenty five years, had worked 12-hour days for decades in hopes of being able to retire early, move to the desert and spend our later years as snowbirds in beautiful Arizona.
Until, December 2015, when Larry's swollen lymph nodes and spleen became too large to ignore any longer. All of our plans came to a screeching halt when the series of tests revealed that Larry had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I recall, for months prior, looking at his complexion and being disturbed by his lack of color and overall grey palor. Although disturbed, I forced it out of my head that there could be a problem. Needless to say, I now listen more closely to my instincts.
Unfortunately, I still find myself quietly assessing his complexion each day in the event some health problem is lurking. They say that cancer affects the whole family. This is painfully true. After being referred by a close nurse friend of ours, we were connected with Dr. Manali Kamdar at the University of Colorado BMT-HEME Blood Cancer Clinic (UCHealth) we learned that his specific blood cancer was known as mantle cell lymphoma. I honestly don't know how we made it through what seemed to be a crushing and devastating blow. This was truly a time of deep depression and fear.
Through education about the disease by Dr. Kamdar and her wonderful staff at UCHealth, we began to realize that there is always hope. I believe the key to emotionally surviving the experience was in utilizing the resources that were provided to us by our healthcare professional and LLS, including pamphlets, newsletters, blogs, and educational group events.
Becoming a part of this NHL community was a must! Not knowing equated to fear and hopelessness. Knowledge of the disease and what is being done for blood cancer patients was empowering. Reading about the numerous clinical trials on the LLS website was a constant source of hope. UCHealth became a safe harbor and a place of light and hope for us. After rounds of inpatient and outpatient chemo, bone marrow biopsies, PET scans, an autologous stem cell transpant and countless appointments, Larry has been declared in remission for over one year now.
Thanks to the help of family, friends, Dr. Manali Kamdar, her priceless staff and LLS, we are now living in Arizona, treasuring each day, and grateful for every minute of this beautiful remission. Cancer definitely changes every aspect of life, but not entirely in a negative way. We include a small monthly donation to LLS as it is our duty to help support clinical trials and research in an effort to reflect our gratitude.