Stories from survivors, families and friends
This digital story was produced in a training workshop by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Alaska Comprehensive Cancer Partnership in March 2009:
My Cancer Journey
One doesn't expect to be diagnosed with cancer; I certainly didn't. Cancer can evoke many responses: usually starting with fear and terror. I had an enlarged lymph node, but I didn't know what it was. I also had acute pain in my left arm, but I thought I had pulled or strained a muscle.
Not having health insurance, I went into a free clinic and saw a Sister of Mercy. She told me to go to the emergency room, so I did. Now I was in the hospital for four days. I was poked and prodded multiple times, and I received a biopsy. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma or non-Hodgkins was the diagnosis.
But I had gone to the right place. My aunt Cherrie died of Hodgkins lymphoma at the age of sixteen about fifty years ago. There were no treatments for her.
The mind is capable of many wonderful things. Personal built complex systems and figure things out. I have the most common type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, so the path to take was fairly clear and mapped out. I got a power port and started chemotherapy fairly quickly. I did six rounds of R-CHOP, I shaved my hair, I gained about twenty pounds and felt tired. I started an exercise program to help, then I waited and got a scan.
I still had cancer, so I had to get radiation and I continued to exercise to feel better. Then I had to wait... and wait. Two months later, I got another scan: I am now in remission.