I’ve spent the last 19 months wondering if I was going to live or die from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The truth is, there’s never been a better time to have this diagnosis as the treatments just keep getting better and better.
I spent last weekend at the North American Lymphoma Conference in Brooklyn where the collective energy from the presenters and the conference-goers was palpable. The front liners, AKA the physicians, researchers, and the staff at the Lymphoma research Foundation mentioned on several occasions that their mission is to eradicate lymphoma, and in the meantime, develop successful treatments that may lead to a cure or at least provide borrowed time for some who continue to wait for the magic bullet. The conference goers brought just as much hope with their promising stories of success, their commitment to persevere, and their acceptance of the position they’re in.
I came home from this enlightening weekend to prepare for another PET Scan on Monday morning. I met with my Hematologist yesterday morning about the results and was given good news. Some people achieve NED (No Evidence of Disease) with their scans right after they finish chemo, but I have a persistent area that keeps lighting up and causing doubt. This scan, compared to the two others I had when treatment ended (one in November, 2016, and one on April, 2017) shows a decrease in the size of the area and less uptake of the tracer used in the test. This means that the area likely does not harbor lymphoma cells and is just scar tissue, which my body is actively absorbing.
I asked if I could consider this a remission and if so, when did it start. I fell in to the “time will tell” category, and time has revealed that from a medical standpoint, I’ve been in remission for about a year, since my last chemo was given in November, 2016.
I have not put all my eggs in one basket during this year of recovery. Although chemo and western medicine are invaluable and necessary, there are so many other things that can be done in conjunction with standard and conventional treatments. For instance, I now have an Integrative Medicine physician who has made an enormous impact on me and my understanding of my disease and how to live well. I schedule Reiki and massage appointments routinely through our local Hope Club run by the American Cancer Society. I have a standing monthly appointment with a wonderful Reflexology practitioner, leaving each time feeling relaxed and centered. I practice guided meditation every morning and before sleep. I eat organic food, and drink filtered water. I keep a group of people close to me who I consider my soul mates. I ride my bike and often meet friends out for fun at an out-door music venue. I keep on painting, which is a form of meditation, and I read books that inspire me.
In fact, I finished a book on the train back from NYC Sunday night called “Live Like a Fruit Fly”, by Gabe Berman. In a funny and meaningful manner, he shares his thoughts and experiences about how short this life is and how important it is to live in the moment, forget about the past, and to consider the future only when it becomes the present moment. The book doesn’t claim to cure disease, but it promises to illustrate how importance our choices are, and the impact they have on how we live each day.
I loved the book so much, I ordered two more copies and would love to give them away. Leave me a message either on this Blog post, on Facebook under this post, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and on November 1, I will pick two names and send copies to the winners. You can always order your own book. It will be a sound investment, I promise.
As I close this post, I’m reminded of something I read last year from a fellow Lymphoma survivor: “Remission, I couldn’t wait for it, then I got it….its like being in the Witness Protection Program and someone is always trying to still kill me.”
Although this thought is completely normal, and I fully understand it, I will do my best to leave worry out of my life.
And when I find my self worrying, I’m committed to remembering to “Live Like a Fruit Fly”.