Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor, yep that’s me. I can’t help but reflect on what I went through leading up to this post. This post has taken a long time to write, mainly because I am out livin’ my life after being cooped up for months and stopping to write this just keeps getting delayed.
Let’s take a minute to look at the numbers.
100 plus cards of support, encouragement and prayers (and many gifts too)
1 X ray
1 CT scan with contrast
3 PET scans
1 CT guided biopsy through my lung
14 plus blood draws
12 chemo treatments
26 medical bracelets
1 port install
1 port removal
$15,000 in medical bills
Over 1,000 RX antibiotics, anti viral, anxiety and pain drugs (and claritin for pain)
Over 1,000 Supplements (including Vit D, B12, Probiotics, Biotin, CBD oil and essential oils)
I know many of you know this already, but I also know I get new followers all the time and want to share this VERY important update. On March 13th (6 months exactly from the day I started chemo) I was able to shout to the world I AM CANCER FREE! Oh what a wonderful day that was!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
We celebrated my cancer free status with tacos and gelato! YUM! It’s the lunch of cancer survivors didn’t you know? HA!
It’s been over 2 months since my last chemo and I’m doing great. I’ve been eating out more than I have in probably 5 years!!! We are currently on our Spring Break trip that I booked back in January. At the time I was hoping we would be celebrating my birthday (Happy 44 to me!) and my cancer free status and we ARE! My son just said to me, “can we stop eating out? We have ate out too much lately!” HAHA! Yes, kid, this celebration eating is coming to an end.
I am getting stronger everyday. I haven’t started working out again, but I will. I find that just working in the yard, taking long walks (even walking for 8 hours in one day), taking the stairs is plenty at the moment. I’m usually always sore after a good day of movement.
I meet with my cardiologist this coming week. He specializes in oncology heart issues and I’ll find out more at that appointment as to how closely I will be monitored moving forward. One of my chemo drugs has been known to cause long term heart issues. Once you have cancer and do chemo, you’re always a cancer patient. You must be proactive and get check ups and stay on top of your health. The same way you should even if you don’t have cancer, but it matters even more now.
I also have a follow up blood work and appointment with my oncologist the first of May and that is when we will schedule my next scan (for June). I pray for another clean scan. If it’s clean I get 6 months between scans! That would be AMAZING! If it’s not, then it’s plan B with treatment (stem cell).
If you have followed me since 2011 on my journey to a healthier me, you know it’s been an overhaul in body, mind and spirit. I have been on a journey to love myself for the unique person I am. I’m not saying that I don’t struggle with this from time to time, but I have come a long way from where I was 10 years ago. What we tell ourselves daily matters!
Trust me even more now when I say this: Friends, don’t wait for better days to come. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to make a change in your life that will bring you happiness. Don’t complain about your life, instead thank the Lord often, be kind to others and do things in your life that bring you great JOY. Look at life through a lens of gratefulness. Each and every day is a blessing, even the crappiest of days.
I have a wonderful group of Hodgkin Lymphoma friends that I treasure. They have been a great inspiration, guidance and support for me through this and continue to be so. I wondered how I would be after I found out I beat cancer and I’m a little shocked at how well I am doing. I have to believe that all the work I have been doing for the past 10 years has been a major contributing factor to this. Or maybe the bottom will fall out one day. Maybe it wont. I don’t fear about what will happen in June after my scan. I’ve already heard the words I feared. That doesn’t mean I won’t worry from time to time. Y’all know I’m a planner and would love to know if the second half of my summer will be celebrating or chemoing, but we can’t plan our lives as we wish. Trust me in this. Let go and let God do his work in your life. Look for signs. I know I was given this “opportunity” to share my journey with others on this similar path and to give them hope that this is just another season in life.
I know many of my friends are struggling with hair loss, scars, mental health, self worth, self acceptance etc. I wish I had magic words to make us all feel “normal” again, but we will not be our old selves. We will be a different and hopefully, one day, better version of our old selves. If you feel lost and confused after chemo, please know that better days are coming. I can say this with confidence as I have overcome so many dark times in my life. When I felt like things would never change, they eventually did. If I found myself in a dark and difficult place I would tell myself “give it 2 weeks” and if I wasn’t feeling better in 2 weeks I would go speak to my doctor. More times than not I was in a better place 2 weeks from that moment. Telling myself this lifted the weight of wanting (needing) to be better RIGHT THEN. We can’t just snap out of our feelings and we shouldn’t ignore them either. We can reach out for help. We can focus on the positive things in our lives. These both help a lot. Most of all we can love ourselves, even in the crappy days and allow ourselves to mourn the old version and prepare to embrace the new.
My advice on the hair loss is to look in the mirror less. There are many times I forget I don’t have my long signature hair I’ve had for a long time. Focus on your inner beauty because it’s there and if it’s not you can work on that too! Learning to love ourselves no matter what doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey, not a sprint.
If you are just now finishing your chemo, take it slow. Ease back into life a little more each day. It took me 6 months to get to where I was at the end of chemo and it will take me 6 months plus to get back to where I was before chemo. Each week I am growing stronger. It’s a wonderful feeling. I am proud of all the things I overcame during my treatment!
Just because I beat cancer doesn’t mean my journey is over. I have a long road of ahead before I can be considered “cured” of this blood cancer. 5 years to be exact. If I can make it to next Valentine’s Day (one year from last chemo) without it coming back my chances go down considerably for relapse. Add in another year and it goes down even more. That still doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to stay away. I know a few that it came back after 8 plus years.
I promised myself I would not fear of what is to come. We just don’t know. I joke (yes, I’m allowed to joke about cancer), that I would hate to fret all day and night about this blood cancer coming back and end up getting another type. So what’s the point in fretting!?! We just don’t have time to worry about all the “what ifs” because if we do we won’t have time to LIVE the day we are blessed with in front of us.
Thank you for following along on my journey and continue to do so. Thank you to all that have come before me and given me hope and encouragement. You rock! xo Angie