large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
In January 2021, my new life journey was about to begin. After doctor visits, bloodwork, testing, and finally complete shock, the diagnosis of cancer was given to me and my family, large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). We were in disbelief but ready to fight. As my oncologist stated, “You have an aggressive form of cancer, we will treat you aggressively, and it is potentially curable.” Those last two words were what I needed to hear. Let the fight begin.
Days went by quickly as the process began. I had COVID tests, scans, port placement, pre-treatment tests, and a new haircut, and took a big, deep breath. You see, cancer was not new to me. I am a retired radiation therapist who has worked in oncology for over 45 years. It was my job to help and care for others, and I loved doing that. I treated both adults and pediatrics, and I am very familiar with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). What a blessing they are in so many ways.
My plan of treatment was six cycles of chemo every 21 days with a repeat PET scan after my fourth cycle for reevaluation. This new journey in my life was tough, really tough! Unfortunately, after my fifth cycle, complications developed which resulted in hospitalization, a stop in treatment, antibiotics, and numerous blood transfusions. As a result of someone donating blood, my life was saved. I am forever grateful for their time and love, and I knew when I felt better, I needed to pay it forward. The plan was set, and with the help of amazing family and friends, we took this journey together step-by-step until the completion of the cancer treatment.
After feeling better, my family and friends set our plan in motion with a mobile blood drive and a fun-filled day of activities to give back to those who gave to me . . . Impact Life and LLS. Close to 75 pints of blood were donated. Emotions were also running high as I was able to attend Light The Night (LTN). As I gathered around with all my new leukemia and lymphoma friends, I realized I was not alone in this new journey in my life.
I am happy to report that it is almost two years since the end of my treatment. My bloodwork is now normal with no signs of cancer, and I’m feeling pretty good with some “new normals.” I am blessed!
LLS was just a phone call or email away. Their never-ending support is contagious! As a retired healthcare worker, it is hard to be the patient. Your mind is in constant motion. Because of COVID and restrictions in place, there were long days of chemo by myself which allowed reflection on all cancer patients, past and present. This journey is not easy for any of us, but never forget, we are not alone. We are stronger than we seem, braver than we believe. We got this. Never give up, and always live life!