I was diagnosed with stage 4 follicular lymphoma on May 16, 2018, a date I will never forget. The cancer was already in my bone marrow and when I asked my doctor how long would I live if I did nothing, she said about 90 days. Dr. Amy is scary smart and I told her I needed to attend my son's wedding in a few months; let's see if you can get me there, even if it is in a basket. I started R-CHOP chemo treatments almost right away. The side effects, discomfort and pain were a 9 everyday. Shockingly, for the weekend of the wedding my pain & discomfort dropped down from a 9 to a 1. Amazing! It returned to a 9 following the next treatment. After my chemo treatments, my scans showed no cancer at all.
I felt like I survived for a reason but did not know why. I started following a crumb trail and I believe that lead me to the why, at least so far since the crumb trail is still dynamic. I was able to create a Cancer Patient Advocate program at the Seidman Center in Sandusky, Ohio with the wonderful cooperation of the management & nursing staff. After just 4 months we made great impact on the emotional wellness of 86 patients. The oncology nurses loved it also.
I am still getting maintenance treatments but many patients told me I gave them hope, even though I had no clue what I was doing. Then the COVID-19 virus hit and everything stopped. We have 5 different new initiatives to implement once things return to the new normal. The feedback from the patients I connected with in my visits & chats was deeply touching and all along I felt there was more that could be done to help cancer patients, especially the newly diagnosed. I am anxious to get back to following that crumb trail, and volunteering as a cancer patient advocate. One journey has led me to another and although I am just a passenger, I look forward to seeing what comes next. Be Strong - Stay Strong!