After a few nights of waking up with flu like aches, and being more tired then what felt right, I took a 9 month old blood requisition to the clinic for some baseline tests. That was Friday 22, 2016. By Monday my family doctor was telling me that they suspect Leukemia, Tuesday the Hematology team at the QE2 had a bone biopsy and a bone marrow sample. On Thursday my doctor confirmed it was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and was highly recommending I check into the hospital that day. So I began the 28 day hospital portion of a 2 year treatment plan. The plan would include radiation to keep the cancer out of the spinal fluid and brain, 102 rounds of weekly chemo at different intensities, about a dozen spinal injections, cycling on and off steroids, all through which I was so fortunate to have my blood respond as the hematology team wanted.
In the days before I knew absolutely, I had to prepare my family that I most likely had Leukemia. Because I caught it so early, they didn’t know I wasn’t feeling well. I told my partner and my sisters, and they helped me present it to my parents. We all gathered in my living room the day of my bone marrow biopsy and we told them. My mom’s reaction confused me at the time; she heard me and then continued conversing about several topics. I thought she must not understand what I had said. I quickly found out that she understood perfectly, felt more deeply than anyone the intensity of the situation, but she was also prepared to be the strength, the support, and the love I needed to pull me through.
My mom (Mary) made it her job to take care of me. She came to my house at least 3 times a week, she cooked food for me, did my laundry; she rubbed my feet when my pain was intense. She drove me through traffic and weather to bloodwork every Monday and Chemo every Tuesday. She watched me drag myself out of bed, she watched me try to numb my pain and control my nausea, and she took care of me even when I had a terrible awful attitude which she just brushed off.
I was also blessed with a second mother taking care of me as well, my beautiful mother in law Sherry. I had her strength by my side through this journey too. During the spinal injections my fear and anxieties were so huge. She was there for all of them, holding my hands, grounding me, and communicating for me when I couldn’t. She helped me move around when steroids had taken away all my strength, and she would sit with me at home when I was too sick to be alone. She gave so much love and support.
I often find myself thanking my cancer for all the beautiful things it has brought me. I have been blessed with so much time with my mom, time which, in our busy lives, we don’t always find. My love and admiration for her is so deep.
To both of my moms, I love you. Thank you for being two of the silver linings through this journey.
First Connection Program is a peer-to-peer program that matches newly diagnosed patients and their families with trained volunteers who have been affected first hand by a blood cancer and shared similar experiences.
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