So today June 1, 2013 begans Cancer Survivor Awarenss Month. I have Peripheral T-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Not Otherwise Specified. (PTNHL-NOS). It has been 50 days since my Stem Cell Transplant. For those unfamiliar with this process let me try to give the short version.
My Cancer can not be cured with currently available treatments. I received a heavy dose of Chemotherapy and 6 rounds of Radiation to kill as many CANCER CELLS in my body as possible. Three weeks prior I had received very strong Chemotherapy (March 4th – March 8th) and I almost died. I had my own Stem Cells collected and frozen. After being home for 2 weeks, I went back (April 8th) and received the Chemo and Radiation and then had my frozen Stem Cells thawed and then infused back inside of me. Hopefully I will be able to live longer by having the Cancer suppressed by the treatment. Because the treatment killed all of my circulating blood cells I had to have them replaced with the stem cells to grow new ones.
The first 100 days are critical in determining the success of the transplant and it is also important to see if I remain in remission. (Cancer has decreased, slowed or stopped growing) It was determined I was in remission after the treatment I received in March that brought me so close to DEATH.
I did not have much time to adjust to the fact that I could have died before I was back in the hospital for the transplant. I was hospitalized for 3 weeks. I have been home for a month now. I have so many restrictions to adhere to too decrease my likely hood of developing an infection. My immune system is compromised.
I am Living with Cancer. I do not feel like a Survivor. I just feel like I am Surviving. The fear of the unknown can be so consuming. I’d love to spend the time enjoying each moment, but with so many moments available and so little that I am able to do, I am bored. Depressed one might say. Angry. Grieving.
I miss my old life. I miss my old hair, skin and freedom. I miss my garden. I can’t because I MIGHT get a fungal infection from the soil. I guess I am tempting fate because I go out there almost daily to do something.
Lymphoma kills thousands of people a year. It is the number one Blood Cancer. The earlier diagnosed the better. Get your yearly physical. Listen to your body. Don’t be so easy to minimize lumps you feel on your body or changes in voice, weight. If you experience night sweats, itching or fevers without explanation see a doctor immediately.
If you are a ~SURVIVOR~ Congratulations!! If you are the loved one of one, remember how special it is too still have this person in your life. If you are still FIGHTING, then FIGHT until YOU RING THE BELL.