I was diagnosed in 2007 with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) with a Philadelphia chromosome positive sub-type. I went into remission after having a stem cell transplant, radiation and intense chemotherapy. Unfortunately, I relapsed in 2008 and underwent intense chemotherapy again. With the funding and the continuous research for leukemia, I am currently on Imatinib (chemotherapy drug) for maintenance and have been taking this medication since my relapse. I am grateful for this drug that has prolonged the quality of life that I was meant to enjoy with my husband, my dog, family and friends.
My cancer experience was somewhat scary, but, having a nutritional background and working in healthcare helped me cope with my illness. The uncertainties were intimidating, but, with the support from my family and friends, they helped me get through the “hiccups”, and the emotional rollercoaster during treatment. I am thankful that I was surrounded by awesome doctors, nurses, family and friends who helped me get through it all – not once but twice!
When I relapsed and going through the treatments again, I did feel like I lost my sense of hope and faith. I had then asked my healthcare team if I could speak with someone from spiritual care to help me regain the strength and courage that was once lost. Speaking with someone from spiritual care made a huge difference. It changed my negative thoughts and helped me survive through the relapse.
If it wasn’t for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC) support posters hung up on Unit 57, I wouldn’t have reached out to the Community Services Manager. At the time, she introduced me to the First Connections program where I was matched with survivors with similar diagnosis. The program helped me hear other survivors’ stories and it also helped me regain the hope and faith that was lost earlier in my treatment.
Since 2009, I have been an LLSC Ambassador and I am very proud to represent an awesome organization which align with my leadership goals on being a mentor. Being an ambassador has given me a sense of purpose in my life and to continue the mission that I was sent to do. I have been able to connect with so many others in each step of their blood cancer experience. I feel that I have helped them understand that it is ok to ask for help and to feel the way you do in your own cancer journey.