In January of 2020 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma after months of ongoing symptoms. After spending months in and out of the local hospitals due to severe pain caused by the cancer, I was fortunate enough to be transferred to Memorial Sloan Kettering. Although they were able to give me very high dose chemo right away within a few days of being at Sloan my complications which included blood clots in my lungs and other organs, fluid surrounding my lungs, and masses causing severe pain ultimately caused me to no longer be able to breath effectively on my own. I was placed on a ventilator while they worked vigorously to get rid of these complications. I was luckily able to be taken off the ventilator and after a few days graduated from the ICU to the Medical Surgical floor. After a couple of weeks of close monitoring and many different medications I was able to come home.
Although the beginning of my journey was extremely scary the rest of my Lymphoma story is very short and sweet. On August 9th of 2020, after 6 rounds of chemotherapy and 2 additional rounds of a T-Cell depletion medication I was found to be in complete remission. December of that same year I was able to return to work as a Medical Surgical Registered Nurse, and I began to try and get my life back to as normal as I could. I began to plan the wedding celebration myself and my husband Rich were unable to have, and started to think of the family that we would be able to build. Due to how fast things moved we were unable to freeze any of my eggs prior to my treatment so in May of 2021 I visited a fertility specialist in order to see what my options would be. Unfortunately my results were not promising and I was told that if we had any chance to have a child we should try right away. With this information I reached out to my oncologist and he thought the best option would be to move up my scans to make sure I would ok to get pregnant.
I went for a PET Scan in June which showed reactivity on my left hip. My Dr. did not seem too concerned and stated that it was up to me if I wanted to get a MRI for further evaluation. I opted to have the MRI done and when I did the same spot on the hip showed a nodule. My oncologist again told us not to worry until there were definite results, but I knew that this was not going in the right direction. I then had lab work and another PET Scan in July which showed reactivity in the same spot, and my labs began to show disease. Although we all were expecting the lymphoma returned our next step was to have a bone marrow biopsy to determine the type of abnormal cells. I had the biopsy on Tuesday July 27th and was not expecting the results until the following week. To my surprise I received a call from my oncologist personally on Friday July 30th at 6:00pm to inform me that the biopsy showed Leukemia. He was as shocked by the results as I was stating that I am the first patient to get Leukemia following the treatment that I received for the Lymphoma. He urged me to head to Sloan that evening to be admitted for further evaluation, and I did just that. After meeting my new team they decided the best thing to do was to start treatment right away.
Within 4 days of being in the hospital I was transferred to the Leukemia floor to begin treatment where I would stay for the next 39 days. I received a chemotherapy called Vyxeos on day 1, 3 and 5. After this we watched my WBC, RBC, and Platelet levels drop. I was given blood and platelet transfusion almost every day until my counts began to recover around day 30. Throughout this month I had very low energy and frequent fevers but overall I was able to tolerate it very well. During this time the transplant team came to meet with me. Due to having two different type of cancers so closely together my team believes that my best chance of living a life cancer free will be to have my immune system replaced with a donors. They said the person that would have the highest chance of being a perfect match would be my sister, but they would also look into the bank just in case. Luckily for me my sister turned out to be a perfect match and she has agreed to donate to me. After a month of being home from the hospital we are finally ready to start the transplant process which brings us to where we are now...