Sixteen months ago I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Time is passing by me so quickly that sometimes I forget to breathe. As shocked and petrified as I was then, I still feel the same way now.
Last Friday, January 18th, I received a PET scan to follow the three months of Brentuximab treatments. Dr.s and staff at the UCSF medical hospital had high hopes that this anti-body conjugate would put me into remission and allow me to have my stem-cell transplant I desperately need.
There is something us cancer patients came up with, a term to define all the stress and anxiety one feels before a scan: Scanxiety. It consists of: heart racing, headaches, clenched jaw, uncontrollable crying at times, leg shaking, rude outbursts and other annoying unsettling things your mind comes up with. I had a lot of scanxiety leading up to my PET scan. It truly is an awful feeling not knowing what the outcome will be. Although I have never had a clear scan before, something in my mind kept telling me that this was it! This was going to be the one to tell me good news! As I lay in the tube motionless, I kept repeating my positive mantras in my head: I am cancer free, I am healthy, I am strong!! I felt so wonderful this time around. There was no doubt in my mind that I did do everything possible to rid my body of this cancer!
Yesterday was my appointment for my results. I couldn't help but to cry most of the day leading up to the appointment. I then started to doubt myself, thinking the 'what if's'. Finally the time came. The Dr. said this: Well, you didn't have the results we were looking for but you did show some improvement of 40%.
UGHHHH! I just wanted to scream, run down the hall way, down the street, get into my car and drive, never coming back! Instead I cried while listening to what they want to do next.
More chemotherapy! Three more months of intense treatment that could cause heart issues is all I heard at first. Then they dropped me with another bomb! I now no longer qualify for Autologous transplant, where they use my own stem cells. I now need a donor for a Allogeneic transplant. They explained that because I have not reacted well so far to anything they have thrown at me, my cancer has become persistent and stubborn, and if they were to go ahead and use my own cells I most likely would relapse soon after it was done, because my immune system is not as strong as they would like it to be. I sort of giggled when they said 'persistent and stubborn' because it sort of was like karma just hit me in the head and said "see!! that's what happens when you are stubborn in life!"
So now I need a donor. I only have one full brother that can potentially be a match, Jacob. He is my life line right now. They will test him with a simple blood draw to see if his tissue and cells match mine. I am hoping it will be easy and he will be my match. If he isn't then we will have to search for a match throughout the world.
I am trying to stay as positive as I can and thinking of the good things that are going to come about. I want to make it my mission and inform people that there are thousands of patients needing help! Not only can you donate blood or organs, you can also donate stem cells and bone marrow to save a life!
In the mean time I will be staying on track with eating healthier, exercising as much as I am able, practicing being in the moment, extreme patience and letting go of fear, and of course undergoing more chemotherapy! The fight continues!!