My journey with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) hasn’t been easy, but all-in-all it has been fairly positive. I was diagnosed with CLL in August 2009 through routine blood work and was put on “watch and wait” for four years. At the time, it was hard to know that I wouldn’t receive treatment right away, and that I was supposed to go on with my life as normal. That was very nerve-racking to say the least. The Internet was really my only source of information and it wasn’t always helpful or reliable.
Nine months into my CLL journey, I discovered one of my neighbours had been living with it for the past 10 years. I knocked on his door and was immediately ushered in for coffee and a long chat. I listened to his stories of ups and downs, his treatments, and how he coped and still managed to enjoy his life. I came away feeling a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. A year later, I discovered a support group for blood cancers. It was a great place to compare symptoms and find ways for managing stress, fatigue, fear and more. It was comforting to talk to others who were going through the same things. It was so nice to know that I wasn’t alone.
For this reason, when I heard about the LLSC’s peer support program, I immediately signed up as a volunteer. Over the past few years, I’ve chatted with several others through the program and find we have many of the same fears and feelings.
In October 2013, I began treatment. After six rounds of treatment with minimal side effects, no CLL cells were detectable in my blood. I can still do all the things I enjoy – walking, swimming, camping, reading, sewing, travelling – I just have to do some of them a little differently. I had the best results one could hope for after treatment and now seven years later my blood counts are still holding.
I’ve lived in Halifax all my life. Today, I am enjoying time with my husband and our two beautiful adult children and their families.