femailady's Journey with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)

Survivor: Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: almost 7 years ago, Female, Age: 63, Stage III

  1. 1
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    I was a Post Office employee working full time, I didn't have time to be sick..... or so I thought. After a two week stay in a hospital I was finally diagnosed wth Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was such a surreal moment, my "busy" life had suddenly come to an abrupt halt.

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  2. 2
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    A Decision to be Positive

    Decision Point

    After I was told I had cancer there were a million things running through my mind at warp speed and an avalanche of emotions swept over me. It felt like I was sleep walking in a bad dream and kept waiting to wake up. Two days after my diagnosis I snapped out of my surreal dreamstate and thought...... ok, it is what it is. Now what? What is the next step? How do we move forward from here? I knew I was facing a challenge that would take a good attitude all I had to get me through the months to come. That mindset and decision to be positive and move forward was the best thing I did.

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  3. 3
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    There are diferent kinds of Chemo depending on what "cocktail" you will be given. You made need more than one kind of medicine that may be given intravenously or through pill from. The experiance of chemo varies from person to person. I was not an easy thing to go through for me. Side effects vary. I experianced hair loss (including eyebrows and lashes), constipation, insomnia and puffiness due mostly to the steroids, some nausea, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, dry skin, mouth sores and slight periodic depression. Some days were better than others. The steroids had me wired for a few days but most of the time I was pretty fatigued. I just wanted to be normal again. The main thing that kept me going was something I had heard inadvertantly one day. I heard someone say "Do not despair. What ever you are going through is only temporary. It is not going to be like this forever. It will change." That became my Mantra. So I learned to take one day at a time knowing that this was only temporary and that my situation would change with time.

    Easy to Do: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  4. 4
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Loss of Normalcy and Independence

    Loss

    It's the loss of the simple things you take for granted that you aren't able to do anymore or the feeling of being limited to what you can do. For example....You have to limit who you can have around you due to risk of infection, you can't consume fresh fruits & vegetables during treatment due to risk of infection; There is hair loss- I know that sounds so vain but I did mourn the loss of all my hair. I looked into the mirror and saw an alien looking back at me. I had to depend on someone else for help getting to and from the chemo treatments. That was the loss of my independence. I had to limit my physical activity. I found that I tired easily. I just wanted to feel normal again.

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  5. 5
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Put On My Happy Face

    Decision Point

    Ok so I was feeling crummy about this loss and that loss. But what I found was that if I just made the effort to change my mindset and put my happy face on I actually started to feel better. I adapted. I went out and bought a nice wig for the hair loss. I finally had some extra time on my hands so I worked on some special family scrapbooks for my family and gave them as presents. It wasn't too physical and it wiled away the hours. I was being productive again. I kept in touch with family and friends via the internet. Thank goodness for modern technology and communicating with a video camera. I wasn't feeling so isolated anymore. If you make up your mind to be happy and feel better mentally....... you will.

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  6. 6
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Love and Support

    Other Care

    The love and support I received from family, friends and associates was greatest gift and the best medicine that helped me endure and get through this life experiance. It has enabled me as well as those around me to grow spiritually and learn from this experiance.

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  7. 7
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    More Chemo Ugh !

    Oh No

    After the initial 6 months of chemo given the tumor had shrunk in my spleen but the darn X-rays still showed a small mass there. Ok so I need two more months of chemo. Ugh By this time I was chomping at the bit to be off chemo but if this was going to save my life I could endure two more months. Once again I took life one day at a time, I was almost there. Thank God for modern advances in the medical field. If I had gotten this illness 10-15 years ago I would be pushing up daises right now.

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  8. 8
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Still There

    Oh No

    My oncologist walks into the room with a grim look on his face. I get a sinking feeling & think to my self...Uh oh, this is not going to be good. My MD proceeds to tell me that there is still a small mass there. It has not gone away. I will be scheduled for surgery first to remove the offending mass that has attached itself to my spleen and part of my diaphram. Four days after surgery I show up for an appointment with a doctor at Stanford because that is where I will be going to get a bone marrow transplant. My Oncologist needs to extract some bone marrow from me first to see if they can use mine. I knew nothing about bone marrow transplants and everything it entailed but I sure found out quick.

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  9. 9
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Surgery

    Procedure or Surgery

    After 6 hours on the table with an excellant surgeon I am back in my room and groggily hear him say it went well. I am just glad that I am still alive. The after effects of the anethesia results in the dry heaves which is painful but normal. I just want to sleep now, please give me something to sleep off the anesthesia and stop these dry heaves....lol I am up and walking around the next day be it ever so gingerly. Slow and steady wins the race and eliminates those pesky stomach injections to thin one's blood to prevent blood clots. I keep moving every couple of hours. It helps. OK Stanford, here I come.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  10. 10
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Pending Bone Marrow Transplant

    Other Care

    The internet and the visit to Stanford proved to be very enlightening. I was scared s_ _tless. Chemo is a walk in the park compared to the horrors of what one has to endure for a bone marrow transplant. The sad part is after you go through all that there is only a 50-50 chance it will work. Hope springs eternal. Mentally I gear up for the next challenge. I can do this.

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  11. 11
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Being in the 10 Percentile

    Celebration

    So after the Stanford appt. I go back to my oncologist for an update on the spleen analysis. At this point I my mind is focusing on the bone marrow transplant to come and for me the spleen analysis results are just a formality. This time when he walks into the room he has this great big smile on his face and he looks like he is getting ready to burst. Instinct tells me it is good but do I dare get my hopes up? He starts to explain that sometimes chemo will turn a cancerous tumor into scar tissue. My heart starts to race. He also states that this scar tissue will show up as a mass on the X-Ray. The analysis of the spleen showed that IT WAS scar tissue and that usually there is only a 10% chance it WILL be scar tissue. 10% ! ! ! By this time tears of joy and relief were streaming down my face. What were the odds that I would be in that 10%. I was so extremely thankful and grateful for this good news. He said I would NOT be needing a bone marrow transplant. I had some how by the power of the universe been able to dodge this bullet this time. I could be normal again.

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  12. 12
    • femailady
    • Experience with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma...
    over 4 years ago
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    Continued Vigilance

    Other Care

    That was one year ago in February 2010 that my life was handed back to me on a silver platter by my oncologist. I am grateful and thankful everyday for being given a second chance. Yes I continue to get my regular checkups and keep a stink eye out for any possibility of the Big C lurking around any corners. I retired from the Post Office in 11/11 after putting in 30 years of service. I have bigger fish to fry now. I joined the YMCA and have lost 30 lbs since Nov 2011. I continue to do cardio exercises everyday and do light weight training every other day with the cardio. I can't sress enough how staying active and exercising every day has helped me. You feel better, you have more energy and your endurance increases. Yes, one day at a time has lead me to this day, this wonderful time in my life where I get to live, love and enjoy the rest of my life, come what may.

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