On May 23, 2009, a year after the death of my son, six months after the death of my mother, and five months after the death of my father, on the eve of the closing on my parent’s condo, I was diagnosed with lymphoma.
Following eight rounds of chemo and seventeen radiation treatments, on December 17, I was pronounced in remission. My anniversary date is coming up soon. I have been fortunate to be in remission ever since with only minor inconveniences from the treatment.
Sometime during the first year after my treatment, I became a First Connection volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. That means that when someone is diagnosed and wants to talk with someone who has been through what they are currently going through, I receive their name and give them a call. I think what I provide is mostly hope. I am in remission and living a full life. That is possible for them, too.
Last night I received a call from a woman I had talked with previously who had recently gone into remission. She wanted to know how long it took me to regain my energy and if I experienced depression at the end of treatment.
It is interesting as the years go by, my memory has faded. How long did it take me to regain my energy? How long until I felt myself again? How long until I was back in the swing of my life again? The details are fuzzy.
A vivid memory is encountering a friend I hadn’t seen in years in the parking lot of Dorothy Lane Market. A hat covering my bald head and still pale, she looked at me like a deer caught in headlights as she struggled to find words. “It looks like you’ve been through a lot.”
So overjoyed at being able to do my own grocery shopping again, to her seeming surprise, I gushed with excitement.
I am also clear that I did not experience depression at any time during or immediately after treatment, and for that I have my friends to thank. That period of my life was one of my happiest. Because I had no family able to give me support, local friends rallied round. My every physical and emotional need was met. I had no idea how important I was to them. I never felt so loved.
I started a Caring Bridge website. My world-wide professional relationship therapy/coaching community prayed for me and sent me loving messages of support. They spread the word and soon I was receiving prayers and messages from people I had never met from across the globe.
Every Thanksgiving I am grateful for my continuing remission. That call last night, however, increases my gratitude this year for lymphoma ushering in one of my most profound experiences of being loved.
I continue to be grateful for friends with whom to share loving relationships and who fill in like family when I need them. In the end, isn’t that what matters most?
My daughter and I will be sharing Thanksgiving with two of them.
Happy Thanksgiving 2018
I will give thanks if you will share at least one blessing for which you are grateful this season.