Living with Lymphoma
I went to my last treatment with the hope in my heart that I have cultivated over the last five treatments. The building is inviting, the staff is friendly, and the rooms and furniture are comfortable, bright, and equipped with TV’s and personal devices to watch movies. I never had time to use the electronics because I was either sleeping or doing crossword puzzles with my friend Jill. Jill went back home a few weeks ago, so my dear sweet friend Madeline picked up my mother and drove her over to me about mid-morning so my mother could see where I’ve been going all of these weeks, and to keep me company. I chose a wide chair so we could sit together. We watched funny animal videos on my computer and chatted.
I had an appointment with my MD the day before to be approved for the chemo visit and to discuss how I’m feeling. I’m feeling really good and have come a long way from the dark days of wondering, worrying, and managing severe abdominal pain and poor appetite. I’ve gained almost 20 pounds back from losing 25, and have been complimented many times on my wig and the lighter color of it. My hair dresser said the lighter color matches better with my pale skin. Brian calls me Jane Fondue (Fonda). He’s always trying to be funny.
My next steps are to have a PET scan the week of November 28th, and shortly after, meet with my Doctor to discuss the results. He’s hopeful that these six harsh chemo treatments worked, but if not, I will likely need a stem cell transplant. This involves my own stem cells…not any from a donor, which eliminates a huge set of possible side effects including rejection. He said it’s done on an outpatient basis and is preceded by a high dose of chemo which wipes out “everything” (not sure what “everything” is) and the stem cell transplant rescues the patient. I sure hope not to have to go to that level, at least not yet, but am so glad there is another option for treatment if disease still remains.
My last treatment ended with fanfare from the staff in the form of a song, a tambourine, and bubbles. The song went like this:
Although we’d love to see
you every day,
the time has come for us to say
pack up your bags,
get out the door,
you don’t need chemo anymore.
I know it’ll be hard for me to not see the people who were involved with trying to save my life, and it must also in some way be hard for them to see people come and go during the darkest phases of life. But they’re all so positive and respectful of life, and will continue on as long as people need them…which I imagine will be forever.
These last several months have been characterized by loving attention and hope from so many people. My immediate family including my brother from NYC has been so helpful and attentive. He comes up to visit as often as possible and helps me and my mother. My neighbors have kept my hope alive by sharing positive thoughts and compliments, and one sending endless meals and friendship. I have a bag of cards that have been sent by so many people, some people have sent more than one. I counted them a few weeks ago and there were nearly a hundred. There are over a hundred now as I’ve received even more since I counted them. Each and every one brings light and hope. I have far away friends whom I’ve have never met who are lighting candles for me. The power and hope this provides is immeasurable. I’ve received numerous gifts in the form of books, plants, wind chimes, flowers, a quillow and a pillow, small wooden signs of hope, gift cards, coloring books, towels, meals, hand knitted hats and things I know I just can’t remember at this moment because there is so much. Each and every gift has infinite meaning. I hold each and every person who sent me a card, gift, a Facebook message a phone call, an email, or just thought of me or prayed for me in high esteem and thank you from the depths of my heart. I couldn’t have gone through all of this so easily without knowing that you were all on this journey with me in some way. My love and gratitude for you all is eternal.
I’ll post again in a few weeks with the results of the scan with the hope that no more treatment is necessary. Keep praying my friends. It’s the greatest gift and it really works.