Sept 19, 2009-A day that will remain in my mind forever. What I thought was going to be an ordinary day at work, turned out to be a day that changed my life forever. I was working my first big girl job in family practice right after graduating from college. I was heading into work on a Friday morning, thinking it was going to be a normal day, but the news I had waiting for me after I clocked in was something that I least expected. One of the doctors I worked with pulled me into a room and closed the door. I started to wonder what could be so important that she would need to tell me behind closed doors. When I saw the look on her face, I then knew that it was something serious.
“Lori, I got a phone call last night that I wasn’t expecting. The lab called me and your labs with news that I do not want to tell you. There is no easy way to tell you but you have leukemia”. At that moment, time stood still. All I kept thinking was that this can’t be happening. I am 23, just started me first big girl job, engaged to the man of my dreams, and planning my dream wedding. The only reason I had labs done is because I was bruising more than what I normally do but I am a clumsy person, just ask my family. So I cut myself on my knee and it bled constantly for 2 hours, but this can’t be true. However, with the tears streaming down both my face and the doctors, I knew it was. In that moment, I felt like a death sentence was given to me. After my parents and fiancé were called, I went to St. Rita’s in Lima where I would then learn what the next step was.
After all the paper work and phone calls, I was settled in my hospital bed when I first met the doctor who was going to be helping me through all this. The doctor informed me of what was going on, and what could possibly happen after the results were confirmed. The only way to confirm what kind of leukemia I had was to do a bone marrow biopsy. That was scheduled for the following morning, Saturday, at 7AM. Well, right at 7AM I was wheeled down the hall to the procedure room where it was going to take place. I will never forget how cold and dreary that room was, and the feeling I experienced as they clipped my hip bone. I stayed in the hospital until Sunday when I was discharged home on medication and daily checks of my lab work. After a week it was confirmed that I had Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.
Most people wouldn’t consider me lucky, but with other cancer patients, I am considered lucky. With Chronic Myeloid Leukemia the treatment that I have is to take a chemotherapy pill every day, that pill is called Tasigna. I have never had to experience the loss of my hair, nausea from chemo, or long hospital stays. I do experience the bone marrow biopsy and needle pokes to check where my blood levels are at. One of the side effects I have is one that seems to be the hardest for me, that is, the ability to start a family with my husband, Mike. We have been married for 3 years and are still unable to start a family. With the medication that I am on I am unable to carry a child since the Tasigna can cause birth defects to the baby. Because of that I need to be in complete remission for two years. Many of you may not think that two years is a long time, but to me it feels like a century away. I cannot wait to experience the growth of a child inside me, the unconditional love that child will provide me, but most important the chance to give my husband Mike the opportunity to be the most amazing dad, which I know he will be. Until my two year countdown can begin, my husband and I will enjoy our time as a newlywed couple.
I never would be able to say that I am an ALMOST 5 year Leukemia survivor, without the support from my amazing husband, family, and friends. They have truly been an inspiration to me to keep moving forward, let nothing discourage me, and only think positive. I am blessed to have such a great support group who can help me through this. With them behind me, I know that everything will be fine and there is nothing that will stand in my way to get through this. I will forever be a Leukemia survivor. So thank you to my husband, family and friends who have supported me and encouraged me to keep going. As my sister in Law Lindy says, “Keep on, Keeping on”, and that is what I will continue to do.
Finally, I just want thank Kathy Miller, and the Relay for Life committee for choosing me to be the Honorary Survivor for this year’s Relay for life. It has been something that I will cherish forever. And also, thank you to Kristen Schnipke for giving me the chance to feel like a model and donating a photo session, I will remember that moment forever. Thank you all!