MY LYMPHOMA JOURNEY

Lymphoma check-up January 2016

Wow. I can’t believe another year has gone by. I survived all the blood tests and checkups with my hematologist. My iron levels have improved, and my protein levels are stable. All is well, and that’s all I could have hoped for right now.

So here’s a photo I snapped this summer while in St. John. It brings back memories of being a kid – carefree, happy, no fear.

Enjoy!

And remember to take care of yourself…

DSC_1734 kids at Francis bay copyr

Lymphoma check-up January 2015

It had been a year since I’d seen my hematologist.

A really good year.DSC_1110 pier and boardwalk copyr

In May of 2014, my husband, Russell and I published a ‘healing’ coffee table book of lyrical photography and poetry, “FOLLY BEACH DANCES – The Infinite Rhythms of a South Carolina Seashore” with the help of five award-winning women author friends – Patt Hollinger Pickett, Mary Horner, Tina Solomon, Marcia Gaye, and Pat Wahler.

The book has done very well by word of mouth, selling nearly 300 copies by year’s end. I’ve been told by a poet friend that 500-1000 is a great number for a debut poetry book run. Well, I hope to surpass 500 copies by May of this year.

As far as my lymphoma is concerned, doc says my iron levels are down. Nothing that can’t be fixed with multi-vitamins with iron. I admit random thoughts ran through my head when doc told me my red blood cell count was low.

My next check-up is in April; hoping the multi-vitamins help. Doc suggested I start eating more red meat. We’re pretty much fish and chicken people, but I’ve been making a concerted effort to buy more red meat from a local butcher.

While I was in the doctor’s office, my hubby spoke with a young black woman, Christine, diagnosed with a tumor wrapped around a disc on her spine. She knew something was off when she started losing her grip. Christine received radiation for the tumor, and is currently receiving hormone therapy. Her grip is still weak, but her outlook positive.

Russell happened to have a few copies of our book, Folly Beach Dances with him, and felt compelled to give Christine a copy. He explained to her that the book was full of inspirational photography and poetry, and meant to be uplifting and positive.

Christine asked him for a hug.FOLLY BEACH DANCES_casebound_cover - FRONT ONLY

The day couldn’t get any better than that.

If you’re in the St. Louis area on Saturday, February 7, stop by our booksigning at 6 North Cafe in Wentzville from 10 a.m. to noon.

Until April –

Peace out and love.

And remember to dance!

 

Lymphoma check-up January 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last Thursday I visited the Center for Advanced Medicine at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis for my six-month lymphoma check up.  After checking in the desk for my blood work appointment, I was given a pager. I took a seat with about 75 other people in the enormous room, light pouring in from the atrium above.

While people waited for their pagers to beep and flash, they worked together on puzzles (provided by the center), read and talked to family.

A blonde-haired fifty-something woman in a bright pink t-shirt and jeans arose from her chair and rang the gold dinner bell attached to the wall. A family member snapped a picture. Everyone clapped and cheered. She was in remission.

My beeper went off, and I marched myself to the lab.  With precision, a female technician drew four small tubes of blood for analysis. I handed over my pager, and then ambled across the room to the hematology office. The receptionist checked me in and I took a seat in the assigned waiting area.

A 70ish woman sat next to me. We struck up a conversation and spoke about the Midwest, and of course, the beach. In a thick Scottish accent, she mentioned a recent move from a Mississippi beach town. Her husband was undergoing treatment at Siteman Cancer Center. St. Louis had become her second home; it possessed some of the best cancer specialists in the country. She missed her friends from the South, but was glad her daughter lived just a stone’s throw away from her new home in O’Fallon, Illinois. She had such a sweet smile.

We talked more about the beach. I shared my vacation stories about Key West and the Great Lakes region. Dad always managed to travel south in May, and north in August, avoiding the heat. I spoke of Sunset Beach, North Carolina and the Kindred Spirit Bench. Oh, the Kindred Spirit Bench.

As my name was called, I bid my new friend farewell with a wave, and followed the nurse.  She took my vitals.

“Hmm. Blood pressure’s a little low today.”

“Try the other arm.  It’s always low on the left arm.”

She placed the cuff on my right sleeve.

“Normal.  That’s weird.”

“I know.”

Within minutes of the nurse escorting me to a room, my hematologist, Dr. Majerus, knocked on door.

“Hi, how are you?” Dr Majerus inquired.

“Good!”

“You look great! What are you doing to look so good?”

I thanked her and grinned.  I mentioned I’d found the fountain of youth through coconut oil – been slathering it all over my body, just like country star Carrie Underwood.

She said she’d have to try that, and chuckled.

We talked for awhile about my writing endeavors and her Hawaii vacation.

Dr. Majerus was not just a hematologist; she was a confidant, a comforting voice, and a positive influence in my life.

“Your blood work looks wonderful, and so does your CT scan,” she said.

Her suggestion – a routine check-up in a year. Previously, I’d seen her every six months.

“Don’t worry about scheduling a CT scan. We can talk about that in next year’s appointment.”

I felt fabulous.  I was only slightly anemic, and that was okay.

We chatted abit more.  I told her I’d personally deliver, Folly Beach Dances, my healing photography and poetry book due out soon.  I thanked her for allowing me to mention her in the Introduction.

As I exited the room, and strolled to the check-out desk, another cool thing happened.  The bell rang again.  Another person was in remission.

Light the Night, September 27, 2013

The Gateway Chapter of Leukemia and Lymphoma’s Society’s, Light the Night in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri was Friday evening.  Working alongsSheree and Russellide other volunteers, I assembled paper lanterns for the walkers.  Hubby, Russell, worked in registration Light the Nighthandling crowd control, and gave out t-shirts to registrants.

We planned on leaving by 8 p.m. to beat the traffic. Around 7 p.m. I had a change of heart – inspired by thousands of people gathered together for a cause.  They selflessly donated their time and money to fight blood cancers.

Before the walk, the organization requested all those with white lanterns gather at the stage for a group photo.  It was kind of surreal for me to be part of the photo.

At dusk, we strolled with others – those surviving lymphoma carried white lanterns (that’s me) and others holding yellow lanterns walked in memory of a loved one. A sea of people with red lanterns symbolized the organization’s supporters; hubby was one of those.

As we strolled casually, we spoke to others on the route.  There were people carrying signs “in memory of”, Moms pushing strollers, families pulling wagons, and twenty-somethings with their dogs.

Camaraderie with people we’d never met before, was building – the crowd was becoming a unit.

Along the route, I turned to my husband and said, “You know, things may not always be this easy.”

He smiled, “No, but I will always be right here with you.”

As Russell and I crested the first hill, we spun around briefly to gaze at the crowd.  A salty tear trickled down my cheek. At that moment in time…at that precious moment, I was overcome with emotion. The scene was similar to the Missouri Botanical Gardens lantern festival. But this snapshot was much more than just a festival – it was a celebration of life. Each colorful lantern represented a person that lit up the night, forging into the darkness, all the while knowing obstacles may cross their paths.

No fear.

No fear.

Next year hubby and I are getting together a team.  Won’t you join us?

September 2013

After a checkup and routine bloodwork in July, my hematologist says I’m a little anemic.  Guess I’ll be eating more of those foods that fight lymphoma like whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats.

Some whole grains I adore are wild rice and steel-cut oatmeal.

Vegetables and fruits almost always contain the antioxidants Vitamin C and A.  Spinach, raspberries and broccoli are my favorites in this category.

Healthy fats can be found in fish and nuts.  I absolutely love salmon, olive oil and almonds.  Bad fats are those found in what I just consumed — a carmel-apple mini cake from Starbucks.

So I’m already practicing good nutrition.

My favorite breakfast is oatmeal, fresh raspberries, and almond milk, sprinkled with a little cinnamon and sugar.  So if anyone wants to send me some Quaker instant oats, or raspberries, I would happily accept.  (hint. hint.)

And lastly, it’s really important I drink enough water throughout the day.  It helps fight lymphoma through stabilization of the manufacture of blood.

Main thing when your doc tells you to take care of yourself – listen!

Okay, this isn't oatmeal, but the loganberries are pretty healthy!

Okay, this isn’t oatmeal, but the loganberries are pretty healthy!

Have a blessed and healthy Tuesday!

Sheree

_______________________________________________–

January-February, 2013

Routine bloodwork.  Check.  CT Scan. Check.  Results. Check.  Doc’s analysis.  Everything looks pretty good for now.

That’s all I can ask for.

Happy winter everyone and enjoy the Midwest snow.

September 8, 2012  9:35 a.m.

Well, it’s been more than a couple months since my diagnosis.  The prayers must be pouring in, because to tell you the truth, my only issue is feeling a little anemic.

My favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything.  Pray about everything.”

If we could all try and remember this (and I sometimes forget), our lives would be less stressful.  Just turn your worries over to our Creator.

Now everyone go have a blessed day.

July 5, 2012  11:00 a.m.

I have been diagnosed with a low-grade lymphoma. Doctors don’t know the type, but is in the same class as Waldenstrom’s lymphoma. These types of lymphoma are not curable, but are manageable and treatable. I am having a CT scan next week to check for other issues.

Please pray that the lymphoma never develops further than it is right now. When you see me, please don’t tell me you are sorry for me. What I want to hear is that you are praying for me. I am slightly anemic; and depending on the day, tire easily.

Doc says that if I do routine bloodwork and visits every 3 months, they hopefully can catch any developments early. Nothing to treat right now – doc said to go on with life as usual – some never have any other symptoms; some do. My Precautions: Watch for lumps on body; labored breathing and a drastic drop in weight.

I didn’t get upset when I heard the news; I just had endless questions.

I refuse to feel sorry for myself or wallow in self-pity.

Thank you for all the prayers already received… and keep sending them my way.

More updates next week.

Sheree feeding the birds
Point House, Cove Eleuthera

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