Wednesday, April 23, 2014

15 years since cancer diagnosis

This weekend marked an important milestone - 15 years since I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Wow - it's been a long time! And I am so grateful to be here still. And even more grateful than that to now be a mom too. When I was diagnosed in my mid-twenties, back in 1999, I remember the world shrinking seemingly immediately leaving only two priorities: (1) I wanted to survive; (2) I realized  that the most important hope for me beyond survival itself was to bear a child.

Within five years of diagnosis, I knew I had seemingly lucked out on the survival front. But as you know, the bearing a child...well, that proved to be much more elusive for a long, long time.

At the 10 year mark, I wrote blog post about my cancer story. I was four IVFs deep in infertility treatment at that point. I thought of myself as a veteran but was still hopeful. Who knew it would be another three years and three more IVFs (and descent into the most hopeless place I've ever been in) before I would amazingly squeak out the other side with beautiful Magpie squirming in my arms.

I was recently in the position to talk to two women more recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma (also both now moms) and talking to them both made me realize what "old news" my cancer experience was - my fairly awful treatment experience, the complete lack of attention to the medical treatment's potential effects on my fertility (both of them were told to freeze eggs and/or embryos), the survival stats themselves. Things in all these arenas have thankfully come a long way.

It was one of those - Oh! - experiences when I realized that this April 19 marked the 15 year mark. Somehow it feels like a significant one. I don't typically do anything special to honor the day, but this year Will and I raised a toast just to mark it for a moment.

I also realize that now that I'm a "long-term" survivor, I should probably pay attention to some of the late effects research, or at least drop in to see my oncologist to see if there's anything extra I should be doing in that regard. I know cardiovascular issues and pulmonary issues are more common (and mortality higher), and there is also the niggling fact that something like 25% of us long-term Hodgkin's survivors get a secondary primary malignancy. I hate contemplating that, but given Magpie's existence especially, I should see if there's anything additional I should do regarding screening in that arena.

But for now...another moment of gratitude. Another milestone of survival.

I feel so extraordinarily lucky on so many levels.


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  1. I'm grateful for you, and your space here too. Cheers to 15 years!

  2. I'm glad you're here, too. . . and so happy for you that you are now a mom. :-)

  3. I am also very grateful that you've survived 15 years :)


  4. Constantly amazed by you, Mo!
    What a wonderful attitude you have, and what a wonderful mother you must be.

  5. High risk Breast screening (mammo and MRI) is especially important in young women who have received radiation to their chest. Here's a link the the Ontario breast screening program:

    Canadian Breast Nurse Navigator :)

  6. Congratulations Mo! Such an amazing milestone.

  7. So glad that you're here, and so glad that treatment has improved such that women are told to freeze eggs or take other active steps to preserve fertility. Boo on cancer, and yay on having kicked it so successfully to the curb; may you continue to evade it.


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