St. John's NL
Here’s how my journey began….it all started with a rash on my arms and legs in the Winter of 2022 that was not improving with a variety of prescriptions. In parallel, a cough developed that continued to worsen as the winter months went on. Late March I awoke to a swollen face and neck. This was alarming to me, especially because my family could barely recognize me. I was very fortunate to have a family doctor that could get me in for an appointment. She could not explain the various symptoms and I was sent for bloodwork and chest X-Ray the next day. By the next evening, the phone rang and my world collapsed. My doctor called to tell me that my chest X-Ray came back and showed a very large mass on my chest that appears to be Lymphoma. I wrote the word on a page in my notebook. Looking at the word on the page was surreal. How can I have cancer? How is this possible? I am a mom to a seven year old boy, a wife, full time engineer, I exercise daily, I am the minor hockey team manager, the Beaver Scout Leader and now a Cancer Patient.
The formal diagnosis of Stage IV, Diffuse Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma came shortly after and within less than two weeks I was admitted to hospital to commence chemotherapy. I went on to complete 6 rounds of R-CHOP throughout the summer, but in September after yet another scan, I was told the mass was gone! Best news ever. I went on to ring the Bell of Hope on Sept. 29th, 2022 with close family and friends by my side. As I mentioned, I have worn many different hats in my lifetime and I am now thankful to be wearing the hat of a Cancer Survivor.
On the theme of gratefulness, Cancer has really helped me recognize that there are many things to be grateful for. One of those things is the LLSC. The LLSC has helped me is so many ways on my journey. Once the dust settled on treatment, I recognized I needed something more and was connected to the LLSC local representative here in Newfoundland. I realized there are some wonderful programs that I could avail of. I joined the Peer Connection program and was matched with a fellow Lymphoma survivor who helped me recognize that there is a normal (well a new normal!) life after cancer! In addition, I have joined some of the monthly Podcasts. Upon reflection, I realized my connection to the LLSC actually occurred on the day after I was diagnosed! A good friend of mine sent a message and advised that I check out the LLSC website to avoid going down dark paths on Google! The website has some really great information that kept me company on some of the sleepless nights at the onset of my journey.
A therapist told me that being diagnosed with Cancer blows all the petals off your flower. Through treatment your flower has to be re-built and will never look the same. Cancer is now a huge petal on my flower and right next to that petal is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada!
I am honoured to be the 2023 Honoured Hero for Light The Night in Newfoundland and Labrador. When I was asked to be a part of this, my response was that I didn’t feel I was a hero…I simply dug in and fought Lymphoma, and I was lucky to have a very large army behind me which consisted of family, friends, colleagues, and many health care professionals. I am hoping that through my work with the LLSC, I can provide hope and comfort to those going through blood cancer.
To close, I want to leave you all with a favourite quote of mine: “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.” By Bob Marley