I didn’t know it at the time, but this time last year I began the most incredible journey of my entire life.
The start of this journey was a suggestion by our daughter that we go to Europe for a week after she finished her law school finals.
Discussion and research finally had us settling on Ireland, Dublin specifically.
What none of us knew at the time was that I was in the grip of Large B Cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had been for a year or more. I knew I was tired all the time and (I thought) my asthma was getting worse all the time.
This was also the time everyone was panicking about so-called “Swine Flu.” With this background I climbed on planes wheezing and coughing constantly. I kept my inhaler at the ready and carefully explained to seat mates I was asthmatic which seemed to relieve their fears.
Our first day in Ireland was wonderful, a mild spring day with alternating sunshine and showers. I loved Ireland and its people. They were amazingly friendly and helpful. Whenever we got lost or confused someone would stop and help us.
The whole trip was a mixture of amazingly wonderful sights, sounds and feelings. And this was in spite of my constant fatigue and problems breathing.
When I got home things got worse until eventually my doctor began ordering tests. The initial results scared me out of my wits. “Masses in the lungs” meant only one thing to me. Lung cancer, which meant I was looking at a life span of weeks or months.
Eventually when enough tests had been done the final diagnosis came in and the cancer was wide spread but treatable. It was even a type that can be cured in some cases. At that point my spirits bounced from deepest, blackest hole they’d ever been in to the highest point I’ve ever known.
People now seem to keep saying “You are so cheerful. Every time I need to hear a cheerful voice I know I can call you and you will cheer me right up no matter what is going on.” I like being this person.
During my various testing and treatments I’ve met some incredibly wonderful people. Doctors, nurses, medical assistants, lab techs are the warriors on the front lines in the battle against cancer. Then there are the patients themselves because here is where you discover who you really are. Are you one who gives up? Someone who expects others to do all the work? A fighter who is going to do everything you can to help defeat this foe? Here is where you find out.
My year has provided me with some goals; I want to help others find out what they can do to help beat cancer. I want to go back to Ireland when I feel good so I can enjoy the home of some of my ancestors even more. I want to share my adventures and discoveries with others. And, as I move forward, discover more goals to strive for.