I was diagnosed in 2008 with Chronic Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In 2010, my chemotherapy treatments began, and soon after my husband of nearly 30 years left me. It was devastating, no inkling, no warning and not preparation. The person you thought you could lean on the most left. The rug was pulled out from under me. Now, I have found a new partner, and it feels like the start of a second life. We decided to name our renovation company 'Second Life' as well, denoting what feels like a second life after cancer.
Some of the biggest challenges in my blood cancer experience continue to this day. After radiation treatments in 2015, I never got back stamina, and can't multitask the same way I used to anymore. The fatigue issue is the worst part of the experience, it is the overriding thing that denies me from who I used to be. I'm always tired no matter what I do. It's not 'I need to sleep' it's a deep fatigue. Life can feel exhausting. Whenever I lend myself to something physical, I end up paying.
Light The Night felt like it gave me some modicum of control. The event made me feel like I would have a part going forward to better treatment and ending blood cancer. I wanted it to give me control. But in the end, it was a life changing experience. My two sisters, brother in law, Tom all joined me, it was a euphoric experience, touching thing. Everyone felt the exact same way. I was so surprised by how much it meant to be.
It's just lovely to connect with people in the same boat, it's nice to see others who are in it together. For me to show who I am, that this is what my cancer experience was like.
My most memorable Light the Night experience was in 2019. I have a group of the loveliest, loyal and uplifting friends a girl could possibly wish for, and most of us have been friends since grade 3. That's over 50 years! In 2019, my mother became very ill and was in hospital in Winnipeg declining slowly. I live in B.C., so it was heart wrenching and difficult with many trips back in forth. Ultimately, we were able to fulfill her last wish and that was assisted death through MAID October 18th. The experience left me emotionally and physically exhausted, so I decided not to join the walk that year. I had one of my girls coming from the island to do the walk so we decided she would just come and stay a few days with me instead. Tom and I went to pick her up at a hotel downtown in Vancouver, where she was having lunch with her daughter, or so I thought. Virginia comes out the door and I am happy and jumping up and down to see her. Then next thing I know, one by one, here comes Bev and Lisa from Winnipeg, Leslie from Saskatchewan and Kim from Florida!!
They had come to be with me and have us all stay at the hotel for 4 days… and do the walk together! They had registered our team and had hoodies made for all of us. Laura's Angels! We have never cried and laughed like that in our whole lives and that's saying something! I have no words to express my feelings there's nothing that could illustrate how full my heart was then and continues to be even now. All weekend we had people asking about our hoodies and crying and laughing over incredibly touching it was.
Cancers are a personal thing, it's very personal. I just think you should just support 'cancer' in whatever way that works for you. For me, yes, I want blood cancer to end. In my opinion, I feel like it’s really possible that it might be cured in my lifetime. Which means, hundreds of thousands can be saved. It's a personal thing but if you know someone who's been through cancer, I don't think people 'should' support, they should do what works for them in their experience. But in my personal experience, this is what I want to do. I like to have the ability to share my story with people.