In 2017 I was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. At the time I was the mother of a 12-year-old daughter and I had a big fear of needles. I initially made the decision to not take the treatment because I was very scared of the unknown. My hematologist was quick to get me a PICC line and, after many thoughts of my daughter growing up without me, I began the journey.
In total, I had six treatments of R-CHOP chemo — they were long, but not what I expected. This journey was so different than I imagined.
For the most part people were amazing, except for one person who attended a fundraiser to tell people I was faking, and had shaved my head to play the part. That hurt. I was fighting for my life; I had lost my job, and my husband had a reduced income to take time off to look after myself and our daughter. Things were tough. The stress of that put me in the hospital for a week with a very low white blood count. I couldn’t have chemo that week. The duty doctors told my family at that point that I might not make it through.
My daughter was a youth dart player with dreams of going to England to play her game. I told her that night that if I didn’t make it to follow her dream and make it to England and play on that big stage. She instead told me that we would go together. After she left, I spent the night thinking that I had to be here for her. When I woke up the next day, my white blood count had a large jump and I was on the mend. My treatments resumed, and I was back on track.
There were days that I didn’t feel like I could do it, but I never gave up. I thought positive thoughts throughout it all and I trusted the hospital staff.
After my sixth treatment I had a PET scan and was given the news: I was cancer free! The day came that I got to ring that bell. I was very emotional at that moment. I was overjoyed not just that I had survived alive, but now I had a new family of friends we created at the hospital during that journey. To me, they were all kind of like The Littlest Hobo: they were there to help me when needed, and moved on to help others in need. The hospital staff went over and above their jobs to make my 5 months with them a very positive experience. I can’t thank them enough.
As for my daughter? The following year she qualified to go to England. As she had said I would during my treatments, I went with her. We all went as a family. I was so proud of her for representing Canada on the world stage, and I was proud of myself for having the change of heart to take the treatment. It wasn’t bad at all, and here I am today: five years later, living a normal life again.
The Daffodil Garden for Cancer Survivors is a great place for my family to stop and reflect on all we went through, and there sometimes we meet with and speak to others who are just beginning their journey.