My name is Adam Keller. In 2016 I was having a relatively normal summer of working a new job in between semesters of school. In June, I noticed a bump on the right side of my neck, but didn’t think much of it because it wasn’t painful to touch or causing stiffness in my neck. A few weeks later, my lower back started throbbing intermittently. It got to the point where I wasn’t able to sleep, so I decided to meet with my family doctor. Upon examination, I was sent to get bloodwork, ultrasounds, and a CT scan done. Those results led to a biopsy of the inflamed lymph node on my neck. After weeks of nervous waiting, I was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin's Lymphoma on July 21st, my 22nd birthday and would have to undergo four months of chemo.
After an appointment with my oncologist and a PET scan, my diagnosis had changed to stage four and I would have to undergo two extra months of chemo and 20 days of radiation.
Once chemo began, I was overwhelmed from the support of friends, family, and coworkers. As if frozen meals, gift baskets, creating a set custom silicone bracelets, and checking in on me weren’t enough weren’t supportive enough, one friend suggested participating in the upcoming Light the Night event in 2016. I thought it would be a great way to raise money for others in my situation so we created a team. We quickly built a team of over 40 in around a month and raised over $8000. I had family who lived in Northern Ontario doing their own personal walks, friends from high school who I had seldom spoken to show up for the event, and felt so empowered by the overall turnout of the event. This empowerment is even more impactful when the actual walk begins and we get to see everyone holding up different colour lanterns showing their different commitments to pushing towards a someday without blood cancer.
Light the Night is much more than a fundraiser, it gives people who are suffering and grieving a sense of community and hope in times where you can feel hopeless. It makes going through struggles become much easier to know a community is there to support you through the Canadian Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, especially when many of these people have gone through similar hardships to what you are facing.
In January of 2017, I finished my chemo and my follow up pet scan showed that the cancer had been remediated so I was considered to be in remission and I would not have to go through radiation treatment. I went back to school and my life seemed to be back on track. In August of 2017, I was about to begin a 12 month internship when I had some tightness in my chest playing soccer. I figured I should take it easy, left the game early, and rested. I woke up in the middle of the night struggling to find my breath and knew I needed to go to the emergency room. Ultrasounds around my heart showed that there was fluid in my heart cavity. This was quickly solved with some medication, but my oncologist wanted to follow up on this and ordered another PET scan to ensure I was still in healthy condition. I had a mass around my heart and it was biopsied. I was diagnosed with a relapse of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma right before the 2017 Light the Night. Team Keller was once again committed to raising money for LLSC and raised over $7500.
After Light the Night, I began treatment. I was to go through two months of chemo, followed by a stem cell transplant, which would leave me quarantined at Victoria Hospital from December 19th to January 3rd. Lastly, I had 20 sessions of radiation over the month of February.
All of this treatment seems to have done the trick and I have been in remission since March of 2018. I looked forward to getting back to doing the things I love like travelling, playing beach volleyball year round and golfing in summer. I continue to be supported by all of my loved ones and am committed to supporting Light the Night and the LLSC to ensure that anyone going through the hardship of blood cancer can feel as supported as I have felt throughout my journey. Thank you to everyone who has dedicated their time to such a wonderful cause.