“One year ago, today, life as I knew it changed. After having blood work, I needed a blood transfusion. This was the first of many transfusions that I received over the following year. I was sent to the Cancer Centre in Sudbury for a bone marrow biopsy to see why I wasn’t making blood. I remember wondering why I was there? Later that day I received a phone call. Something was wrong and we had to go back. The following Monday we learned that I had cancer, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Philadelphia Chromosome Positive to be specific. Aggressive treatment needed to start immediately to save my life but I couldn’t because I was 3 months pregnant. The child couldn’t survive treatment. I was admitted to the oncology unit, topped up on blood, and I was induced. I started chemotherapy the following day and by Christmas, I entered remission and I was able to go home but would have to come back after Christmas for more chemo and radiation. In March, my husband and I moved to Ottawa for four months and I was given a chance at being cured with a stem cell transplant, which is another story in itself. It’s been quite a ride.
Dealing with losing our son and limited visits with my daughter during treatment and transplant has been two of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with. Now, I am coping with symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and grief. I believe it’s just part of my process. There were many times that I felt defeated. I kept reminding myself that in the moments that life felt crummy, It’s not forever, it’s just one moment in time.
Getting through this has been difficult but I attribute my success to a few warrior traits. Attitude. I told everyone I was not dying, I refused to. Don’t get me wrong there were many times my mind wanted nothing but to escape. A warrior does not quit! Honesty. The more open and honest I was through this process the easier things became. Love. I learned how to accept love from others and give nothing but my fight for life in return. Acceptance. I made use of resources, tapped into counseling and alternative therapies. Connections. Find people who you can connect with. Friends, family or strangers. For several months, I had no hair. It was obvious to a stranger that I was fighting something. I was instantly connected to this woman as she hugged me and shared her story. Humor. Laugh, smile, giggle and do it lots. Find joy in life, it’s there even if you have to dig deep. Feelings. Learn about them, learn about what they mean to you. Life feels pretty amazing, from rain falling on your skin to the way your body feels after exercising. Life is full of feeling. Embrace it all. Time. Slow things down. The slower the pace the easier this part of my journey was.
I gave myself no option but life. I take note of my challenges and am consistently working towards improving my ability to present in this moment. Life gets overwhelming, especially when things are beyond your control. In life, you can’t predict what is going to happen to you, but I wasn’t going to let cancer take it from me.”