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Michele Cerami (Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Survivor)

Michele Cerami (Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Survivor)

Symptoms and diagnosis

I had no symptoms. One night, I had an itch in my groin area and felt a lump. I waited a month before I went to the doctor. And he sent me for an ultrasound. It was December 2000 and was the scariest time of my life. Then I got the diagnosis back. Since the lump was still growing, I had to go for PET scans and CAT scans. This is how I found out I had non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer. It was a bit scary because I just had my son.

Treatments underwent and side effects

I had four months of chemotherapy followed by four weeks of radiation. In May of 2001, I finished my last treatment. 

There were painful side effects of the treatment. I lost my hair after chemotherapy. It didn't feel good most of the time. I couldn't even get out of bed for the first three weeks. I was in remission for a very long time i.e., for 21 years. Apart from these, I didn't take any alternative treatment.

Coping up emotionally

I suffered from anxiety. I tried to be mindful and took breaks when the chemotherapy was going on. I had to sleep most of the time. When your body says to rest, you should either take a nap, listen to some music, do meditation or take a time out. You're not feeling well because your body needs some time to heal. 

Support system

My family was upset after hearing the news. Since my mother is a cancer survivor and is also a very strong person, she supported me and encouraged me to get through it. I may feel upset and sad about it but I have to keep going because of my son. I got to live for him, and I don't want to die. When my husband was working, my father used to come every morning. He even took care of my son when he was little. My father was my biggest strength. He helped out a lot like my mom.

I also joined an online support group, the American Cancer Society, which was wonderful because you can chat and meet with a lot of people. 

Experience with the doctors and the other medical staff

I think that I had the best oncologist. He was really good. The office staff, radiologist, and others were wonderful. I had a positive experience with the medical professionals. 

Lifestyle changes

I have to take care of myself now. I walk every day and I exercise. I eat healthy and am very mindful of what I eat. I started doing meditations again, and I am trying to get back into yoga. I try to be mindful of my thoughts to combat anxiety. I take one day at a time and live in the moment.

Positive changes in me

I'm a humanitarian by nature so I love helping people. I feel that I had cancer for a reason. Therefore, I love to inform people about cancer. I also love to tell people about my story to inspire them. I want to serve others and give them information to help them on their journey.

Message to cancer patients and caregivers

I ask them to stay strong. Also try to have as much support as you need from family, friends, and even from a social worker. Remember to take one day at a time. When you don't feel well, just rest because the sun is always going to shine tomorrow.

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