Cancer can strike just about anyone. Most often, when it does, it is an unwelcomed surprise. Behind the signs identical to common ailments, cancer is never really first in my mind of list of causes. After all, I am young and satisfactory healthy. It never occurred to me that I would acquire cancer at such an early age, especially since Lymphoma didn’t run in our family.
I am the first in my family history to grow Lymphoma, and an aggressive one at that. Doctors didn’t know just when the malignant tumor formed on my spine, but within five weeks of noticing a difference in my gait and putting it off, my legs started randomly getting numb, to which probed me to seek the expertise of my primary doctor finally. That was my sign. I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Aggressive Diffused Large B-Cell Lymphoma.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned since getting cancer:
Cancer is not age discriminatory. This is my first Cancer life lesson I came to realization with. I was diagnosed a month before I turned 36. According to the Leukaemia Foundation website, Diffused Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) is most common for people at the age group of 50 and above, at an average age of 65; and, it is more common in men than women (1).
Lymphoma is caused by enlarged lymph nodes. Mine grew on my spine, not the most typical of places. The tumor pressed on my left nerve that runs from my spine down my left leg and is the cause of my Sciatica symptoms.
Treatment for Stage 1 Aggressive DLBCL is the same as Stage 4 DLBCL. There are no sufficient studies to differentiate between the stages. I received 6 CHOP Chemotherapy, 3 Intrathecal Chemotherapy, and 25 Radiation sessions.
The first two years of remission is the most crucial because it is during this time cancer reoccurs, if it chooses to do so. I am 2 ½ years into my remission, in five years I will be cancer free.
I learned that the U.S. Military values family and its safekeeping. The Navy has supported us from the start, had moved us from Guam to Hawaii to Virginia in two months time, provided and paid for all my tests and treatments, as well as brought me closer to familial support so that we didn’t have to go through cancer alone.
I am blessed. Every once in a while I reflect on how strong my family and I have been through it all. Faith and spirit is key. I strongly believe that if there is will, there will always be a way.
Diffused large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). Leukaemia Foundation. Retrieved on February 17, 2014 from http://www.leukaemia.org.au/blood-cancers/lymphomas/non-hodgkin-lymphoma-nhl/diffuse-large-b-cell-lymphoma