Samantha Redsky is from Calgary, Alberta. She was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2008. She is currently entering her 12th year in remission. Samantha wanted to join the advisory committee because when she was newly in remission, she had no real place to turn to for advice to live her life again. She wanted to be able to give others the opportunity to feel less alone.
"I was diagnosed with a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 23. Needless to say, it was a surreal experience. When I was officially diagnosed, I wasn’t traumatized. I wasn’t upset or devastated. I had a ‘what can we do to beat this’ attitude.
My blood cancer was considered so rare, it is actually a statistics case. The rare medicinal subset of the blood cancer affected my heart, and at the time of diagnosis, it had not spread anywhere else in the body. To treat my cancer, I received six sessions of chemo and 21 sessions of radiation – treatment that lasted about eight months. Because chemo made me so sick, I began to question if the fight was worth it and whether I had enough strength to keep up the fight.
I became very emotional after the chemo experience. The doctors said they got most of it out and gave me the option to treat the rest of the cancer with radiation or a stem cell transplant. The stem cell transplant would have taken away my ability to have children.
I didn’t feel angry until about three years after remission. I couldn’t live my life, I couldn’t do what I wanted. I had to plan my life around my medical appointments – I felt frustrated and often asked myself – when am I going to get to live my young adult life? For 10 years, I was in limbo about whether I could have a baby. Now that I have my daughter, it’s an experience I’m so grateful for.
Through my blood cancer experience, I learned that it’s ok to ask people for help and that not everybody can cope with a diagnosis of a loved one. I want others to understand that a cancer diagnosis changes people, but it changes us for the better. What we had to go through made us stronger people.
Every year, I take part in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s Light The Night Walk to help support those affected by blood cancers. I have a positive outlook now that I’ve been officially discharged as a patient. I feel stronger than ever and for that, I am deeply grateful."