Lymphoma, Can’t Forget It. Its June Cancer Survivor Awareness Month

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.  PocahontasWashintonDC 052

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.

 

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Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: An overview

Lymphoma comprises about 67 subtypes of two related cancers that affect the lymphatic system, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).  There are six types of Hodgkin lymphoma and at least 61 types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  Hodgkin lymphomas are somewhat different from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the way they develop, spread and are treated.  Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer and the third most common cancer among children.

Lymphoma usually develops when a genetic error, or mutation, occurs within a lymphocyte, causing the abnormal cell to duplicate faster than a normal cell or live longer than normal lymphocyte.  Lymphocytes are small white blood cells that play a role in the immune system, which defends the body against foreign invaders, such as bacteria or viruses.  Like normal lymphocytes, cancerous lymphocytes can travel in the blood and grow in many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood or other organs.  As a result, while some NHLs are localized in one area of the body, most are present throughout the body by the time of diagnosis.

Although the various types of NHL have some things in common, such as their lymphatic origin, they differ in their appearance under the microscope, their molecular features, their growth patterns, their impact on the body and how they are treated.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into two major groups: B-cell lymphomas and T-cell lymphomas. B-cell lymphomas develop from, abnormal  B-lymphocytes (“B” because B-lymphocytes come from the bone marrow) and account for 85 percent of all NHLs.  T-cell lymphomas develop from abnormal T-lymphocytes (“T” because normally T-lymphocytes spend part of their lifespan in the thymus gland, a small organ in the chest) and account for the remaining 15 percent of NHLs.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma has grown from being a relatively uncommon disease to being the fifth most common cancer in the United States, nearly doubling in incidence since the early 1970s, and increasing among women since 1991. (Understanding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma; A Guide for Patients, Survivors and Loved Ones 3rd Edition; Lymphoma Research Foundation)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

April: Lymphoma Awareness and Testicular, Head and Neck and Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

As the new Spring season unfolds before us, it is a good time to give some thought to the status of your health with as much conviction that many devote to the preparation of their lawns and gardens.  Personally, Spring is my favorite season of the year.  I am an avid gardener.  This Spring will be different.  I am preparing for a Stem Cell Transplant and because my immune system will be compromised, I will not be able to indulge in my favorite hobby.

I’ll find someone to take on this task or me, and will enjoy teaching someone else while my body recovers from the transplant.

The goal of Dora’s Lymphoma Smile Project, INC is to have an impact on the morbidity and mortality rates of Lymphoma.  Because other cancer’s can impact the lymphatic system, it is also important to bring awareness to these cancers.   An abnormal lymph node, may be the first noticed symptom of an underlying cancer. 

April highlights Testicular, Head and Neck and Esophageal Cancers.  Routine physical exams are essential for early detection of cancers.  Most people think more about prostate cancers when thinking about cancer and men.  Just as  women should routinely examine their breast, men should feel their testicles for any abnormal lumps, and changes in their testicles.

Many people neglect going to the dentist until they have a problem with their teeth.  When visiting the dentist, the dentist is not only interested in the health of your teeth and gums, but they also examine the oral cavity for signs of cancer.  It is ideal to visit the dentist every 6 months.

Head and Neck cancers include numerous cancers.  It is beyond the scope of this page to describe each in detail.  It is the essential need for a routine physical that can not be over emphasized.

The Ribbon for Testicular Cancer is Purple. Head and Neck Cancer’s ribbon is Burgundy and White. Esophageal Cancer’s ribbon is Periwinkle.0517111354a

Trying to Survive

On March 4th I was preparing for the Lymphoma Awareness subject for the month of  March.  I had spent time with many person trying to raise awareness and participation in Be The Match. Be The Match is a registry for persons to become donors for persons willing to donate Stem Cells to persons needing Stem Cell Transplants.  I began on my birthday and was assisted by many friends and family around the world to increase donors.

I went to the hospital to began the “mobilization” process (receive chemo therapy and began injections to boost your stem cells so that I could be my own donor.  In hours my life took a turn or the worst.  I had concern about growth of a particular group of nodes.  When I brought these concerns to my oncologist from December to February, I was falsely assured that the Clinical Drug Trial I was participating was working.  On March 4 I was told by the Bone Marrow Transplant doctor that my cancer was growing out of control.

My one day visit to prepare for my transplant became a 2 1/2 week stay.  I became very ill and unstable.  I have no memory of many events.  I received chemotherapy for 24 hours a day, steroids and antibiotics around the clock.  I did not realize how ill I was.

Surprisingly I was able to donate my own cells, however I will not know until after a PET scan if I will be in remission enough to receive the transplant.

Even after my diagnosis and participation in treatment, I can not over stress how important it is to be you own best advocate.  I still have a long road ahead if I am able to receive the transplant.  Even in the hospital I can to keep on to of my medical and medications.  The healthcare industry is a very SCARY place.

Please learn as much about your body as possible.  And if diagnosed with Lymphoma, saturate yourself with knowledge, options, and the best medical professions  and facilities.  I am Praying for a positive outcome.Image

Save a Life: Be The Match!

Hair-Not!

No one likes to show the aftermath of Chemo

Guardian Knights PartyThere are Cancer patients and some others who can benefit from a Stem Cell Transplant.  The are two types of transplant, an Auto and an Allo. The Autologous transplant uses the patient’s own cells.  The Allogeneic transplant uses a donor’s cell.  Donors can be between 18-44 years of age in good health.  The process is not as many believe to be a very painful horrific process.  There is a great need for donors for people of color.  I personally am in need of a Donor’s cells because I have Peripheral T-Cell Non Hodgkin Lymphoma Not Otherwise Specified.  My cancer is not responding optimally to chemotherapy  It is my only chance for a CURE!  Won’t you please consider saving a LIFE?   It is the greatest “Gift” of all.  Go to your local hospital to inquire about Stem cell donation or go to http://www.BeTheMatch.org  PLEASE!

February: Lymphoma Awareness/National Cancer Prevention Month

February is National Cancer Prevention Month. I’d like to keep this simple. There are many resources available in print and online that you can visit to learn about cancer.

What is Cancer: Cancer is a normal cell that becomes abnormal and grows out of control. It then disrupts a tissue, organ and ultimately organ systems.

What causes Cancer?: Many substances outside of the body, but in many cases the cause is not known. Known cancer causing agent are in gasoline,smoke from house fires, cigarette smoke, pesticides, herbicides, viruses and medications.

How can you prevent Cancer?: It is NOT possible to avoid all possible agent that can cause cancer. You should limit your exposures to known cancer causing agents (carcinogens).  Here is a list of some preventive measures one can take:

1. Gasoline contains Benzene known carcinogen.  Don’t smell it, don’t breathe it in.Don’t let your children put gas in your car or lawn mower.

2. Don’t Smoke, if you do, don’t smoke around your children in cars or their living spaces.

3. Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation if you drink.

4. If you have sex, protect yourself.  Sexually transmitted Viruses can cause CANCER!

5. Read your labels on substances you put in or on your body.

6. Check the report of your public water supply.  It is available to the public. Have your well water tested.

7. If you grow vegetables at your home, find out what was on your property before your house was built.

Cancer screening is vital. Check with your physician, clinician, community care center and health department to see what cancer screening are available to you at little to no cost.  Some of the common screenings are for Cervical, Prostate, Lung, Breast, Colon and Oral Cancers. Physical examinations can check for Lymphomas, Breast, Testicular, Prostate, Ovarian and Skin Cancers.  Prevention and early detection is not only less costly, but could increases your chance for a cure or long term survival.

Do not ignore unusual pain, changes in bowel or bladder habits, prolong coughs, changes in speech, chronic hoarseness, changes in moles or warts, difficulty swallowing, changes in breast (male or female), itching, night sweats, unexplained fevers!!!

ALL cancers may affect LYMPH NODES in your body!  Knowledge is POWER!Image

January: Lymphoma/Cervical Cancer Awareness Month Ribbon Teal and White

What is Cancer of the Cervix?

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb).  The uterus has 2 parts.  The upper part, called the body of the uterus, is where a baby grows.  The cervix, in the lower part, connects the body of the uterus to the vagina, or birth canal.  Cancer of the cervix (also call cervical cancer) begins in the cells lining the cervix.  these cells do no suddenly change into cancer.  Instead,  the normal cells of the cervix first slowly change into pre-cancer cells that can then turn into cancer.  These changes may be called dysplasia.  (American Cancer Society)

Because many women are screened routinely, the most common finding is an abnormal Papanicolaou (Pap) test result.  Typically, these patients are asymptomatic.

Clinically, the first symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, usually postcoital.  Vaginal discomfort,  malodorous discharge, and dysuria are not uncommon.

The tumor grows by extending along the epithelial surfaces, both squamous and glandular, upward to the endometrial cavity, throughout the vaginal epithelium and laterly to the pelvic wall.  It can invade the bladder and rectum directly, leading to constipation, hematuria, fistula, and ureteral obstruction, with or hydorureter or hydronephrosis.   The triad of leg edema, pain, and  hydronephoresis suggest pelvic wall involvement.  The common sites for distant metastasis include extra pelvic lymph nodes, liver, lung and bone. (Medscape . author: Cecelia H Boardman, MD; chief Editor: Warner K Huh, Md and more)

From 2005-2009, the median age at diagnosis for cancer of the cervix uteri was 48 years of age.  Approximately 0.2% were diagnosed under the age 20; 14.0% between 20 and 34; 25.95 between 35 and 44; 23.9% between 45 years and 54; 16.7 between 55 and 64; 10.7 between 65 and 74; 6.1% between 75 and 84; and 2.6% 85+ years of age. (SEER incidence and Mortality)

Ladies, Please get you Pap test.  Men ensure that you Lady does!!!Morning Glory smile 002