TO LIVE UNTIL I AM AT LEAST A GRANDMOTHER!
Carol during her treatment
Hello, my name is Carol, I live in a town near Barcelona and I am almost 33. I say "almost" because as many of you will understand, I now prefer to add on the years rather than take them off.
When I was 29 (four and a half months after my daughter was born) I was diagnosed with ‘Hodgkin's Lymphoma', which was then classified as a nodular sclerosis type in the IIA stage. They explained (in very technical language) that this type meant that various chains of ganglions had been affected; all above the diaphragm and without the symptoms usually associated with this illness. I wasn't so sure about this but that is how they defined it.
It seems unbelievable how the time has flown by, but next November it will be three years since they gave me my last session of chemotherapy. In my case the treatment consisted of six cycles (12 sessions) of ABVD and they didn't need to apply radio therapy. After three cycles they tested me to see how it was going and the results couldn't have been better: all the lymphadenopathy had reduced considerably and there was no tumour activity registered. In spite of the good news my plan for treatment wasn't modified. My doctor, Dr Bosch, indicated that we would continue with our initial plan and so I had 3 more cycles to go. Those last sessions were the most difficult. What encouraged me the most when I was in the day hospital, plugged into the machine, was thinking about my little girl waiting for me at home. My family have, without a doubt, been the driving force behind me but without my daughter it wouldn't have been the same. She has been and always will be my reason for being here and fighting for whatever I have to.
Since I finished my treatment in November 2007, I continue with my check- ups, now four times a year and the results have always been satisfactory; that is to say I continue in remission. I have had a few shocks when an indicator has come back positive but it is important to remember that the smallest of problems when they extract the blood can lead to a false result. Luckily, I just had to repeat the test and my worries were over.
Concentrating on my hobby of photography and digital photography helped me during my treatment on an emotional level. It helped me as a distraction and I continue doing it today, not as much as I would like to though, with obligations being obligations. For this reason, I would encourage people with these types of illnesses to try and take up a hobby or look for something they would be interested in. Having a hobby is one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing during the process.
Three years later and I have a completely normal life and I mean completely normal. I don't take any medication or have any problems. The footprint of my battle is still there but these scars help me to remember that I have got to here and without a struggle there would be no victory. I feel fine and there is no sign of the tiredness that the treatment caused. I can now really enjoy my family without worries and I am going to do what I can to one day have an even larger family, with granchildren! My husband has been a pillar of support and a saint with all his patience and love. It goes without saying that he will be the grandfather of my grandchildren and hopefully the father of a little brother for our daughter Sandra.
This is my story but before I go I wanted to let you read a piece of something I wrote some time ago. It's a letter I wrote to my daughter and I hope that one day we will read it together.
"The treatment finished and little by little I regained the strength that the battle had taken away from me and I was so happy seeing you finish the first year of your life. A short time later, the tests showed that the treatment had beaten the cancer and you were also a winner. You meant that my anguish was just a passing pain. If you hadn't been here, I would only have wanted to sleep to forget, or leave to not suffer. Now I only suffer knowing that this fight has let me be with you. I am not afraid of dying but I feel panic when I think of you not having me at your side when you need me; thinking that I can't give you all my love and look after you, feed you, console you. But all this suffering, the cross we bear while we live, is not heavy because you are here. I love you more than anything or anyone in this world, more than my own life without a doubt. Thank you my daughter".
This is my plan, my grand plan: I wish you strength and enthusiasm to win your battles. I leave you with the two sentences that were shared with me and that I always keep in mind. "We can come through this" and "Forward, always forward".
Carol and her daughter Sandra today
Help people like Carol by becoming a member of the cure for leukaemia and haematological malignacies, HERE. You will help us to continue our research so that one day these diseases will be 100% curable. With only a little you can do so much. Thank you!
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