The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society invites you to learn more blood cancers at their 2019 Rocky Mountain Blood Cancer Conference on May 4 in Denver. The conference is for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Attendance is free and continuing education credits are offered to healthcare providers. More information is available on the LLS website.
Leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are types of cancer that can affect the bone marrow, the blood cells, the lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, approximately every 3 minutes one person in the United States (US) is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
Here’s the story of one of the over one million Americans living with or in remission from blood cancer, and the impact building community at the Blood Cancer Conference had in her life.
Five years ago, after 6 months of unexplainable symptoms and mysterious “unrelated” infections, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, PH+. I had no idea what Leukemia was and was about to get a crash course. I was told I was lucky to live through the night, and 2 blood transfusions later, began the build-up to tear-down process and six months of hospitals, chemotherapy, radiation, and a stem cell transplant that saved my life. I am now in full remission and blessed to be living a blessed life in Thornton with my husband, Joe, of 19 years, and son, John, who is a Freshman at Colorado State University studying Business.
I am honored to say I was a high school teacher and school district administrator for 20 years before my cancer diagnosis. I had the privilege of preparing thousands of students for the path ahead of them unknowingly reinforcing the very skills I would need to survive my own cancer path. I had to retire because my suppressed immune system couldn’t handle the school environment, and my new reality became seemingly a bigger challenge than the cancer was. I was lost. Education was all I knew, and I didn’t know what to do next. But I knew how to move forward. Just move.
The first thing I did was write a book. After my diagnosis, I began updating family and friends through a blog and receiving lovely comments in return. Those notes of love, encouragement, and prayers were essential to my state of mind and recovery. I found strength in them and wanted to share my experience with others, thinking they could benefit from my words finding hope in that they aren’t alone. I am volunteering my time and sharing my book with other patients diagnosed with leukemia, finding it helps me just as much as it helps them.
In the early years of my recovery, I constantly wished for support and resources to help me through my struggles. Because of the sheer nature of the Leukemia diagnosis and the isolation, help was hard to find. It wasn’t until I was deep into treatment for cGvHD that I learned about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and all they offer. I went to their Conference in Denver in 2016 and was hooked into so many amazing resources it was difficult to muddle through. What I unquestionably found was a support system I wanted to be apart of in all ways: patient, survivor, and volunteer.
To learn more about living with blood cancer, or to connect with other blood cancer survivors consider attending The Rocky Mountain Blood Cancer Conference on May 4 in Denver.