Here’s how this started in the fall of 2018…Late in October I was treated for strep throat & starting in November I noticed some small "marble like” bumps around my clavicle bone & I was having A LOT of pain in my neck on the left side. This continued for days which then turned into weeks with continued swelling of my neck/jaw under my left ear and COUNTLESS sleepless nights. I was seen many times by a few different doctors and even had a hospital stay in November before Thanksgiving. The doctors ran many tests/cultures only to tell us (Edie & Eddie included) that this was a long-term infection (complications from the strep throat) that needed a long-term treatment of antibiotics. This was NOT my cancer coming back. At that point that was all we knew so we went on treating my "infection" with meds and LOTS and LOTS of daily pain medication. I was in so much pain for 6-8 weeks continuously. Rarely was I feeling good enough to be out of the house, even then I was so worried about all the sickness/flu germs that I already started wearing my mask when I was out. Basically, by the end of December the treatment wasn't really working, and the doctors couldn't do more for me without doing a biopsy & a lot more testing.
That brings us to 2019:
January 8th the doctors performed a surgical biopsy to remove one of the largest "marbles" from my neck. It was sent off to the labs to have every test under the sun ran to determine what exactly "IT" was. Finally, a PET scan was done on January 10th along with more lab work that week and then later confirmed that "IT" was CANCER.
We all just couldn't believe it. We of course thought there was a possibility of cancer but we were disappointed, frustrated & angry because we were previously told "IT" wasn't cancer. Not only did this Lymphoma come back (8 years later) but THIS, THIS is different.
I was previously diagnosed in 2010 with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma-I took on 6 rounds of R-CHOP chemo treatments at UT Southwest in Dallas over the course of several months that year. I was fortunate enough to stay at home in Grapevine & travel back & forth to do my outpatient treatments. Stayed true to all my appointments & checkups for 5 more years. In 2015 I was awarded my "Survivor-ship" award.
This year in 2019 I have been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. It is a very aggressive cancer. The cancer had already grown in the lymph nodes in my neck but now upon seeing the PET scans the cancer was all over my body. It was fact now that all my pain over the course of two months’ time was caused by the inflammation of the lymph nodes & those “marbles” were the cancer rapidly growing. After seeing doctors here locally, I also wanted to quickly seek advice from lymphoma specialists at MD Anderson in Houston. With Edie & Eddie by my side I ultimately decided that THE BEST course of treatment offered was there at MD Anderson.
My doctors didn’t waste any time to get me started on my treatment plan. After many labs, scans & meetings with many doctors over the course of a week’s time we came home on Friday January 25th. It was then that I had the weekend to try to get my life in order & report back to MDA on Tuesday 29th to start my new treatments. There are basically 2 phases to my treatment plan.
Phase 1: · R-ICE chemo cycle #1 3-4 days inpatient administration · 3 weeks “OFF” During this time I am “home” (at my new apartment) recovering from the chemo. Then I am to report twice weekly to do lab work & then to the Fast Track clinic for results. Whatever it is that I would need after the clinic visit, they will take care of me & make sure all my lab levels & intake is good between chemo cycles. This includes receiving infusions, blood & constant monitoring. · R-ICE chemo cycle #2 · 3 weeks “OFF”
After I complete my two cycles of RICE chemo it is necessary for the doctors to check my progress. I will have to repeat a Bone Marrow aspiration, labs as well as a PET scan. The doctor is looking to see if the lymphoma is in complete remission. If not 100% cancer free at this point pretty close to it so then I can move onto the next phase of treatment.
· Autologous STEM Cell Transplant This is a LONG 12 week process that is a necessary part of the treatment plan. With this type of transplant, the patient is the donor of the stem cells. The stem cells are collected, frozen and stored in the lab. This is very long but necessary process after the initial high dose chemo cycles to treat the cancer. After the treatment, I will receive an infusion of the stem cells to speed up the recovery of the blood counts. This allows me to receive a higher, potentially more effective dose of chemo than I could otherwise tolerate.
The transplant schedule looks something like this: Week 1-Work-up Repeat of many labs/tests to ensure that this is best time to have the transplant Week 2-Inpatient Chemo Mobilization This starts the process for the stem cells to be mobilized out of the bone marrow & move to the blood stream to be later extracted Week 3 & 4-Neupogen This is the growth hormone that is injected under the skin. This medicine triggers the body to make stem cells, which then increases the number of stem cells in the blood. Week 5-Collection (Harvest) There will be a different kind of CVC (catheter) rather than my PICC line that will be inserted for the stem cell collection. Its actually 2 catheters (one to take the blood out with the stem cells/one to put the blood back after the stem cells have been extracted) Week 6-Break--HALLELUJAH!!! Week 7, 8 &9-Inpatient High-Dose Chemo/Transplant During this time I will receive the high dose chemo & the infusion of the stem cells back in my body Weeks 10, 11 & 12-Follow up in Fast Track Clinic
This is a long process but we are ready to get started & with lots of love, support & prayers were are hopeful that with the good Lord's help I will survive this. The combination of the RICE chemo/stem cell transplant is a curative treatment plan for this kind of lymphoma that I have. Being in Houston (4 hours away from home) isn’t too far but far enough that it makes many many scheduling challenges for my family. Since it is necessary that I am close to MD Anderson for my Fast Track Clinic visits the kids found me a great apartment that is super close to the hospital. Edie & Eddie have made many trips back/forth to accompany me to my appointments/clinic visits. As many of you know my mom has been living with me at my home in Grapevine for the last few years. When I am away in Houston she is naturally worried about me but my sister Esther, the kids/grandkids are all doing their part to ensure that she is comforted with frequent visits by family, friends & many phone calls/facetime. This is of course a very challenging time for me but for her as well. It is very very hard to be away from her. Please continue to pray not only for me but for my kids, their families & my mom as we all go through this long journey.
There are many challenges that we have already endured these last few months & know that there are many many more to come. Thank you for all your loving support & prayers so far. It has already helped my journey be a little brighter & easier each day knowing you are helping me through this. God Bless.
I can receive mail/shipments USPS or Amazon are the easiest. **Please note if you want to send anything I can NOT have any fresh flowers or plants right now**
Here is my address at my apartment: Liz Ledesma 1755 Wyndale St. Apt #522 Houston, Tx 77030
Here is my address in Grapevine: 1092 Rosewood Dr. Grapevine, Tx 76051
Mom is HOME in Grapevine today!! Although she’s not fully recovered post Stem Cell transplant she’s doing better every day. We’ve been moving her stuff in car loads this week & she’s SO HAPPY to be out of “apartment jail” & be AT HOME with my Grama once again!! 🥳❤️🏡
We will return to Houston for a few appts next week & then for checkups every few months. In the mean time she will be doing weekly lab checkups with her local oncologist & continuing her healing at home. PRAISE GOD!!
Please continue to pray for Mom. She needs to be able to eat, drink so she can have the nourishment she needs to become strong again. She needs time for her body & mind to heal, recover & recharge. She needs peace, prayers, encouragement & love. What gets put in comes out. So thank you!
THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE from Eddie & I in your support for Mom & our whole family. We love you all! 🥰
Posting a few pictures of today’s welcome home. ❤️❤️❤️
More Welcome Home pics will come. The granddaughters are all out of town right now. They are excited for her to be home too. 😉