Survivorship means Victory; victory over death, pain, fear and anxiety. My life changed dramatically in May 2007 when I was diagnosed with AITL (Angioimmumoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma) which is an aggressive and recurrent type of cancer. After numerous regimens of different chemotherapy cocktails, which did not put me in remission, I had an allogeneic transplant in April 2008.,
During this arduous journey there were many highs and lows. Often, I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride with no end. Now I am approximately eight years post-transplant and I can reflect clearly on this adventure.
Surprisingly, I discovered numerous positives along this path; positives like having greater compassion for people wrestling with awful diseases and a desire to encourage these victims. Also, I learned to forgive people who didn’t understand the struggle I was facing. Prioritizing my time, energy, activities, and emotional well-being became primary for me. Small troubles were allowed to slip out of focus. Following explicit directions from my medical team and caregiver also became a priority. It was important to surround myself with positive, caring people; and, I learned to ask for help without being embarrassed. Some relationships, such as the one I have with my husband, were strengthened while others fell away.
Other positives include having a greater trust in God, my husband, who was my caregiver, and in the medical personnel who attended me. I learned to read my body signals and am comfortable with expressing my medical needs and concerns. Also, I understand the value of good nutrition and exercise. Now I have a strong sense of purpose and believe I was spared so I can help others along this same road. I recognize myself as a strong and courageous woman who can face extreme difficulties with grace.
The nbmtLINK has been a great source of information for me. I have watched several of the webcasts and participated in ongoing phone conversations about cGVHD with experts in the field. I also read the Living Now newsletters from cover to cover as soon as they appear in the mailbox. In addition, I have watched the New Normal video to learn as much as I could about my disease.
In conclusion, I am truly thankful to be a survivor and am grateful to each person who supported me along the way.