Leanne Kean

Leanne Kean

St. John's NL

One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide
Brene Brown

I remember it so clearly. It was December 2022 when I discovered a lump alongside my neck. That whole Christmas break was anything but merry - I felt like a dark cloud was hanging over me. It was a grueling process waiting and wondering, but I knew each test was one step further to finding answers.

After a 3-month rollercoaster I got the call that turned my world upside down. I was devastated (but relieved) to have a diagnosis - “Diffuse Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma”. I was told that the cancer was fast-growing and aggressive. Two weeks later, genetic tests showed my diagnosis had escalated to a “Double-Hit” diagnosis which was much worse than we had thought. This meant a more aggressive regimen requiring me to stay in the hospital for 96-hour chemo infusions over a four-month period. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was only 33 years old and had always been so healthy.

The collateral damage of the diagnosis was devastating for myself and my family. My health, my identity, my career, my social life, my image, my fertility, and my financial stability all felt out of my grasp. It put me in a dark place and I felt very isolated, but I realized I had to fight back and get through the battle. My soul was strongly intact and nobody could take that away from me. I slowly started to find a strength and power within myself that I didn’t even know existed.

The journey was certainly not easy (with the treatments, side effects, and emotions that came along with it), but I crossed the finish-line! I got the call from my oncologist that I had complete metabolic response to treatment and they saw no sign of cancer!!! I had the love of my family, my amazing partner, and my loving friends and colleagues to guide me through the darkest time in my life. There have been times I stared my mortality in the face and didn't know if I would make it through; but having so much support has been a deep source of strength and comfort. Love makes the load much lighter.

There is a lot of healing entailed after you are deemed “cancer-free” - dealing with the fear of relapse, reinventing yourself and building back your confidence. Navigating survivorship is not easy, but I try to focus on staying grounded, hopeful and grateful for every single moment, continuing to take my life back, one day at a time.

Life is precious and I am so blessed to be here to tell my story. I will forever be thankful for the LLSC, they have been in my corner ever since - sending along many well wishes, resources; support services, and inviting me to attend last year’s Light The Night event. It was the support I never knew I needed until I found it. They are truly devoted to the blood cancer community and I couldn’t be more blessed to be part of it.