Looking at me now you would never know, over 15 years ago I had just finished the most challenging year of my life. In 1997 I was diagnosed with Stage III Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I completed 8 rounds of chemotherapy. At the time my prognosis was 50-50 but mine is a success story. I am happy to say my treatment was successful and I have not had any re-occurrences of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. In 2009 I was diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma (another form of cancer) which was treated with surgery. I am happy to say that today I am cancer free and healthy.
Cancer changed my life in so many ways:
My friends and family listened, laughed and cared and loved me during the most difficult moments!
Being a survivor has given me a lot of "character"!
I began to follow my career passion after completing treatment! ▪I never take my health for granted! ▪I love the feeling of my hair blowing!
I am so lucky to be a survivor! I look good in a hat – which came in very handy during the many months of chemotherapy!
I learned that humour is an excellent coping strategy (especially for a bald young woman).
Because cancer has had such a tremendous impact in my life, I have always wanted to make a difference. In 2008 I decided to challenge myself and trained to run the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training (Canada). Unfortunately I injured my knee training but am proud to say that I finished the half marathon and raised over $5000. While training I often would think of how weak I was from the chemotherapy and recalled my mom pushing me in a wheelchair to my lasts appointment at the Cross Cancer Institute. It was an incredible feeling to cross the finish line in San Diego, healthy, strong and knowing that the funds I raised supported cancer research and patient support through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
In addition to finishing the San Diego half marathon, I met another racer due to a delay in our flights to San Diego. She and I have since used our professional skills as a social worker (myself) and occupational therapist to volunteer co-facilitate the LLS Patient/Family Support Group. It has been almost 6 years and I continue to be inspired by the individuals and their families who are fighting blood cancers and continue to see first hand how important continued research and support are to finding a cure.When approached about Mom's in Training to be an honoured hero - I jumped at the opportunity.
Although I don't feel like a 'hero, I am happy to share my story and am grateful to be a survivor. Being a new mom myself has been a completely new challenge. After chemotherapy I was not sure that I could have children, so when I found out I was pregnant I was over the moon. I am so lucky to have been blessed with the sweetest little girl. She means everything to me and I pray that she never has to experience what I have. I have chosen to run and fundraise along with the the inaugural Edmonton Mom's in Training team. I am excited for the opportunity to challenge myself and continue to support the cause.
I am a survivor because of this research!