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Photo of Team Blackie

Jenna Black & Daniel Luke

Calgary AB
Canada

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"I'm so grateful for my family, we were barely ever alone in the room"

I am an ALL survivor, diagnosed in 2016

 

I was diagnosed on March 18, 2016, the day before our son’s birthday. My family doctor found it in my blood work. I really didn’t think anything was wrong, I just had a cough and a few fevers. In fact, I had the kids with me at my family doctor’s office. He told me to head to the Tom Baker, so we dropped the kids off at my sisters, and my partner, Daniel and I headed to the Tom Baker. Daniel knew something was really wrong right away, but I still wasn’t sure. At the Tom Baker they started steroids and chemotherapy right away. I had some complications during chemotherapy, including a stroke, because of a blood clot in my lungs. I underwent a transplant in July of 2016. My brother was my donor, he was a 10/10 match. He flew to Calgary from Australia to be my donor. I'm so grateful for my family, we were barely ever alone in the room. Post-transplant, I’ve had some minor Graft Versus Host (GVH) which has caused issues with my eyes. It took me about 2 years to start feeling like myself again. I’ve been going to the gym to try and build up my muscle mass. During treatment my muscle mass was depleted significantly. I’m constantly trying to build up my strength. There are always setbacks though. I get a cold and it just takes me out. For most people, a cold isn’t a big deal, but for me, it takes me 3-5 weeks to get through it. Before cancer, I used to think 'if I could just lose that last 10 lbs.' I lost lots of weight during treatment, because I didn’t want to eat. After the stem cell transplant, I couldn't put the weight back on. Even after treatment concluded, it’s been so hard to put the weight back on. I’ve recently gained a bit, and feel so much better when I have a few little love handles.


Daniel was so stoic during the whole thing. He bought a cot at Canadian Tire and put it in my hospital room. He was the only person who treated me the same as before my diagnosis. He’d tell me to move over and he would crawl into the hospital bed with me. Eventually, everyone at the hospital just knew he was always going to be there with me. When I shaved my head and was so sad about it, he came up behind me and said “It’s just easier access to your neck, you’re still so sexy.” The rest of my family I could feel their distress and pain and knew they were losing sleep over my diagnosis. But they were there to support us through the whole thing. My mom moved in and helped us with the kids. My sister and her husband helped so much as well. We became a team, and now we all do Light The Night together. We all reach into our bubbles of contacts to fundraise to support the LLSC.
Daniel: I walk in Light The Night for Jenna. It's cool to see all the people. It's emotional for Jenna.


Jenna: Yeah, it’s really emotional for me. I see myself in all the different stages. I also see all the people holding gold lanterns and think, that my family could be holding up a gold lantern for me. It’s a really really special day, where I reflect lots. When I see all the people at the walk, I feel really inspired. Every year I think, we are going to do our best to fundraise. For us fundraising success has come from corporate donations. Light The Light also allows me to channel my sadness into something

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"I'm so grateful for my family, we were barely ever alone in the room"