April 3, 2016

My spleen ruptured five years ago Saturday.  That life threatening event started me on my cancer journey.

I had diffuse large B cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  It was stage 4 and aggressive, but that isn’t really today’s story.

When it happened, my husband was in Montana visiting his mom so it was just the dog and me.  I managed to get to a phone and called my neighbors.  They came over and helped me out until my husband was able to catch a plane.

As soon as my husband came in the house, I said that we needed to call 911 for an ambulance.

That is really where the story begins. 

The ambulance arrived and tried to transport me to the major hospital in Tacoma.  Their ER was on diversion so I was transported to, what I considered, the worst hospital in Tacoma! 

However, their gastroenterologist on call was just getting out of the Army.  He had probably more experience with ruptured spleens on the battlefield than about anyone around so I was in good hands. 

What were the odds that I would have an experienced surgeon like that at THE WORST HOSPITAL???

It was at that moment that I fully realized that what happens next was totally out of my hands and that I had to have faith and trust that all would be well.

From there, I had an excellent oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.  I was hospitalized at the University of Washington Medical Center for much of my aggressive chemo regimen.  I had lots of ups on downs – it is like a roller coaster marathon. I received excellent care throughout. 

My husband, family, friends, and work colleagues were all rock stars during my treatment.  I felt loved and supported.

The picture on the right is of me with my bear, Olivia.  My nurse, Olivia, gave it to me.  Her message to me was an inspiration that I needed:

You are in it to win it!

Olivia, RN, Oncology Unit, UW Medical Center

I am considered ‘cured’, although non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has a way of sneaking back.

There are many people who lead with their cancer history.  I am not one of them.  I don’t have any problem talking about my experiences and sometimes I like to talk about it.  But it really hasn’t defined my life.

What has defined my life from this experience was my husband, family and the friends who carried me through those tough times. And my faith and trust that all would be/will be well.

And I think Easter is a good time to remember and be grateful.

Have a good Easter and I will be back on Monday.

Allene

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