A little about me:
I’ve lived in Halifax all my life and my husband and I are fortunate to have two beautiful adult children, a son and a daughter. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and like to spend time walking, swimming, camping and traveling. Reading, sewing and rug hooking can keep me busy when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
My experience with blood cancer:
I was diagnosed with CLL in August 2009 through routine blood work and was on watch and wait for four years. Low hemoglobin was the determining factor for treatment and I began FCR treatment in October 2013. After the six rounds of treatment with minimal side effects, no CLL cells were detectable in my blood.
When I was first diagnosed with CLL, being told that I wasn’t going to be treated in any way and that I should go and live my life was very nerve-racking to say the least. The Internet was really my only source of information and that wasn’t always the best place to look.
Support during my experience with blood cancer:
It wasn’t until nine months into my CLL journey that I discovered a gentleman on my street had been living with it for the past 10 years. One day I knocked on his door and was immediately ushered in for coffee and a long chat. After two hours of listening to his stories of ups and downs, his treatments, and how he coped and still managed to enjoy a good quality of life, I came away feeling a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
Over a year later, I discovered a support group for blood cancers. It was a great place to compare symptoms and find ways for managing stress, fatigue, fear and more. It was comforting to chat with others who shared the same experiences and so nice to know that you weren’t alone. After finding that these discussions with my neighbour and other CLL patients were so positive and helpful to me I wanted to try and help others in the same way.
The LLSC peer support program:
When I heard about the LLSC’s peer support program I immediately signed up as a volunteer. Over the past few years, I’ve chatted with several others through LLSC’s program and find that for the most part we all have very similar feelings and fears. I think I’ve always been open to listening to others’ advice and stories and taking from them what I feel is right and important for me.
My journey hasn’t all been easy and I’ve certainly had some ups and down myself but it is a positive one. I can still do all the things I enjoy, I may just have to do them a little differently - shorter walks and less often, more afternoon rests. I had the best results one could hope for after treatment and 5 years later my blood counts are still holding. So as a volunteer with the program, it would make me feel good if I could provide some encouragement and hope to others with my story.
I’ve always considered myself to be a patient person but maybe not so much with myself. I’ve learned to listen to my body and to be patient with it, to be kind to myself and give myself permission to do what my body and mind need to stay strong.