|Philanthropy - Survivor Stories
My husband and I went to see an oncologist, who then ordered a full set of CT scans, from neck to pelvis. More bad news – the cancer had already
spread from my left side to the right pelvic area and up to my right kidney. Then he ordered a bone biopsy, and luckily, no cancer cells were found
there. That was good news, since stronger chemo would have been necessary. So in December, I started my chemo, had 6 sessions, one every 3
weeks. I lost some hair, but not all of it – that was nice. The worst side effect was always feeling totally exhausted. Lifting my arms seemed an
impossible task some days. But, you know what? I made it through, with lots of support from my family and friends.
After the chemo ended, it was suggested that I inject myself with Interferon 3 times a week for a year, which I did. Clinical trials had shown that
doing that seemed to “buy some time” and stave off the cancer returning. (I had had the “slow-growing” type of lymphoma, which unfortunately is
harder to get rid of. The chances of it coming back are fairly high.) Since 1999 I have felt fine, and subsequent CT scans have shown no enlarged
What did I learn from all of this? When I was first diagnosed, I immediately went on the Internet to find out what this “NHL” was. In some cases I
didn’t like what I read – statistics that didn’t look very promising. But I knew I needed to find out everything I could about this disease. Being
educated about it was the best thing I could have done. I also kept track of all my test results, and kept copies of everything. Being an informed
patient is so important. If it returns – well, there are new drugs being tested everyday, so I’m not worried (well, maybe a little!) The important
thing is to wake up each morning and thank God for another wonderful day, to enjoy your family and friends, to take the time to enjoy life. You
never know what tomorrow will bring.
Linda Colton - Alcyone Province, CA Eta
I am a survivor of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma…let me tell you my story.
In the late spring of 1997 I noticed a lump in my left groin area, but thought it was probably just a “fatty cyst.” (Aren’t
they all??) Little did I know that there are numerous lymph nodes in that area, just like there are under your arms, in
your breast, in your neck, etc. The lump didn’t hurt, but I could feel it, so in late summer I scheduled an appointment
with my doctor, who ordered an X-ray, (which didn’t show anything), and then an ultrasound, which also showed
nothing even though the technician could feel the lump. Next was a visit to the surgeon, who said the best thing was
to biopsy it. So, at the end of October (doctor things take forever) I had the lump removed. Normally lymph nodes are
very small, about the size of the end of your little finger, but mine was the size of a golf ball, and I’m sure when the
surgeon removed it he knew it didn’t look good. After waiting for about 5 days, the results were in: Non-Hodgkins
Lymphoma. Me? Cancer? No way. But I had to face the reality, and after some tears and anger and the “why me?”
stuff, I knew I had to move on to the next step.
Sue Bartley - I found a lump about the size of a marble in my breast. I went to the doctor and he sent me to a surgeon for a biopsy. It came back
positive, so a week later I had a mastectomy. They took lymph nodes out, but there was no cancer in them, so I had no chemotherapy. I walk a lot
at my job, and I try to eat right. I feel so blessed; I've been cancer free for 19 years.
Marian Bates - My cancer was detected in a routine mammogram. It was a stage 1. The doctors removed it in a biopsy. I had 37 treatments of
radiation and am now taking Tamoxifin to ensure no reoccurrence. How important those mammograms are!
Mary Smith - My cancer was found with my first pap test. My dad had just died of colon cancer, and so I decided I should have a pap test and
Averilla Strausborger - I had a mammogram in December 1998. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy followed by 43 weeks
of radiation. I have been cancer free following the rediation. I have a mammogram every year and thank the Lord that my cancer was found at an
early stage so it could be treated. It has been over 6 years since I was diagnosed.
Ellen Welsh - I was seeing my family doctor for what we both thought was a bacterial infection, but the medication wasn't helping me. He decided
to send me to a specialist and found out I had cancer of the uterus. Two days later, I had a complete hysterectomy. I had 36 radiation treatments.
I had a recent Pap test that came back okay. I was surprised at the number of gals that didn't know that a Pap wouldn't show uterine cancer. If
you think you have a problem, be sure to make your doctor pursue further help if they don't seem to be helping you. I've had two major scares in
the last three years, but everything turned out to be okay. I saw the doctor every six months for five years, but am down to once a year except
when they thought I was having trouble again.
Marian Bates, Averilla Strausborger & Mary Smith
(Photo from 2005 National Convention)