My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quabog Relay For Life - Honorary Chair - Survivor Speaker - MY NOTES

 I am honored to be the Honorary Chair of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Quabog Valley in Belchertown, MA.  Here are my notes for my speech from last night.  :)

Relay is about a community that takes up the fight - the fight against cancer.  
This is my community - and I want to thank you all for being here and taking up the fight, the fight against this terrible disease that affects so many and raising the dollars for the advancements in cancer research that make the treatments possible for so many like me to survive cancer.   

I have been fighting for this disease as staff for the American Cancer Society for more than 15 years, but never knew what all this really meant until last year --- it was at this Relay --- I was taking photos of the teams, the survivor lap, the smiling faces of all of you walking the track -- fighting cancer in our community.  

Then that next week that in Dr. Levheim's office just around the corner from here ---  she told us that it looks like I have cancer.  I was hearing those words "YOU HAVE CANCER".  We left the office armed with appointments, doctor recommendations, insurance follow up, and onward, fighting like so many stories I had heard from cancer survivors at Relay.  It was scary, no fun at all to say the least.  After going to Mass General for a specialist opinion and Cooley Dickinson for my PET scan we had a diagnosis and a plan.  We were going to fight this thing - stage 4 diffuse large B cell lymphoma - and the prognosis was good.  4 months of chemo, 3 trips to Boston - a nasty treatment of methatrexate….. Lost my hair, decided to go blonde, endured the drugs, the side effects making the most out of each and every day…. .    The PET scan in November showed something more and the docs said the best route was to remove my spleen.  If I don't need it - take it!   The whole thing really did slow me down mind you…. But I still ran the Chicago marathon in October (2/3 through treatment) and then Boston (6 weeks after spleen removal)…  looking back it sounds like a whirl wind!  My friends called me Wonder Woman and I have the photos of me in costume!

“No one can hold you back from doing all the things you want to do.  Just keep your goals in sight, listen to your body and take one day at a time.  Some days will be better than others, but every day is a blessing. - so make each day the best it can be. " 
Now - it hasn't been a year yet, but no cancer is showing on my latest scans
Time to celebrate life - I am here to celebrate with all of you...
Celebrate with my caregivers - my amazing sweet husband, my fun loving active 10 year old son, riding motorcycles with our son Stephen & Samantha now living in Boston
It IS all about HOPE... and once you have HOPE 
you can share HOPE and if you inspire others, they can in turn inspire you." 

Let's Relay!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mass Appeal - TV segment

I was recently asked to appear on Channel 22 Mass Appeal, a daytime show that highlights human interest stories and events.  We were promoting Relay For Life upcoming events for Hampshire County and Quabog Region.  I met Madelyn, who is the co-chair of the Northampton event in the waiting area.  It was pretty interesting meeting the highlighted events, promotions and watching the 3 stages set up as the cameras moved from one area to the other while the co-hosts bounced between stages.

Seth Stutman was our host that would be interviewing us and Ashley was the other host that was doing other pieces.  They were a cute pair -- funny, energetic and happy!  :)  Seth was hilarious and had a great sense of humor.  We played right along.  Soon it was our time to get in the couches and miked up near the end of the show.  Below I share the link / imbed the video for you to see.  I think it went well, and I look pretty good (my hair is getting longer - yay!)  Check it out!

Relay for Life in Western Mass:

A photo from the set where they were showing recipes raising money for Girl Scouts "Fork it Over"

 A great photo of Madelyn and I at the station :)