My name is Shanee’ Wilson. I am a 34-year-old wife, mom, woman of God, and business owner. At the time of diagnosis, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. While it was devastating to learn that I had such a serious diagnosis, at least for me personally it meant the fear was over and there wasn’t much more that could be done at this point other than to plan for treatment and recovery.
My first reaction was shock. The diagnosis was almost a relief because it meant that I knew what I was dealing with, but it was still hard to hear. My cancer had spread and I was told that my prognosis wasn’t good since it had not been caught early enough.
The very first symptom that something was wrong was fatigue. I thought maybe I had been working too hard, but it wasn’t just fatigue; it was physical exhaustion. I couldn’t even make it to the end of the day without needing a nap. At first, I thought this was normal because I have always been a fatigued person, so when it got worse and became accompanied by weight loss and extensive bruising I went to my doctor. After some blood tests and an ultrasound, my doctor explained that I had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer.
Side Effects & Challenges
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that I was diagnosed with. The diagnosis was scary, but also extremely confusing just like the majority of people who find themselves in my situation. I had so many questions and not a lot of answers available to be found. I began researching everything I could about this disease – the treatment options, side effects, and survival rates were all very different depending on how advanced the cancer was at diagnosis.
It seemed that every person with lymphoma had their own unique ride – there was no right or wrong path, but rather a multitude of paths to choose from. While this may seem frightening for some people, for me it gave me hope that there could be a solution to every problem encountered and made each day feel as if there were still possibilities out there waiting for me!
Being diagnosed with lymphoma was a huge shock. I never imagined that this curable disease would be killing so many people. With the right diagnosis, treatment and research, you could survive the disease, but how do you navigate this journey? Having so much medical knowledge at my fingertips made my journey a whole lot easier, but a lot more difficult too.
During my treatment, I rarely recognized myself. The intensive chemotherapy made me look like I’d aged ten years in a matter of weeks and my strength was sapped beyond what I thought it could bear. It was a long road to recovery yet, the real test was when I had completed all the treatments and scans – that was when I realized that this part wasn’t over yet! You see, as a patient you need to be aware of the side effects associated with cancer treatment. These side effects can be physical (skin problems like dryness and redness) and/or emotional (depression or anxiety).
Support System & Caregivers
I was very lucky to have an amazing medical team to look after me. From the moment I made a very wrong move and started to bleed heavily, I was whisked into surgery, where my blood pressure dropped dramatically. My amazing surgeons and doctors who looked after me throughout this ordeal did everything they possibly can to ensure that I came out of there alive, which I am very grateful for.
I can still remember vividly fighting for my life against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and then waking up having no memory of what had happened. During that time, I was really lucky to have an amazing family, incredible support from my friends, and wonderful medical staff who all worked together to bring me back to health.
I also would like to thank special people in my life, starting with my wonderful and loving husband who has had to put up with a lot over the last few years. My medical team has shown they are so much more than just a team. They took care of me, sat with me when I was in pain and applied ice packs, helped me walk when it was too painful to do it on my own, and told me how brave I was when I needed to hear it!
Post Cancer & Future Goals
So, what are my big goals now? Pretty simply, I want to focus on enjoying the little things while sharing with others what I have learned. I can’t imagine a greater privilege and opportunity than to be able to inspire people to live better lives. So yes, I suppose you could say that’s my next adventure. A personal mission to gather moments of joy along the way and pass them along so we all grow in our lives together.
To add – My goal is to help people who, like me, may feel lonely, scared or disheartened, because I understand what it feels like to be isolated in a mountain of uncertainty. I support every patient to feel more grounded and connected. By sharing my personal experience about cancer, I am attracted and as a survivor of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I think it is incredibly important to share my story with others in order to help them get through their own battles.
Some Lessons That I Learned
Chemotherapy is a fascinating story of resilience, hope, and strength. If you are struggling to make sense of this whole thing, or want a greater understanding of what others have gone through and how they got through it, then you will get the most out of this personal experience.
What I learned is a collection of phrases and thoughts that all have meaning and relevance after a cancer diagnosis. Each phrase/thought is a part of a larger theme, such as my family and friends, my post-chemo hobbies, how I now view food, how I approach life, or the power of passion. Regardless of your personal beliefs or ability to understand the science behind it, finding that you have cancer will completely change the way you look at everyday life. I hope these phrases might help you to cope during this time.
Life is short. Be sure to enjoy it! Learn from that which makes you stronger.
Remember, it’s your life and no one knows you or your illness better than you do. Take each day as it comes and if you need to break things down into smaller chunks of time, then do so. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as there is never a silly one! Go into every appointment knowing what you want to get out of it. That way, you can take control and ask the questions that are really important to you.
If there’s something that feels too hard, break it down into small steps – like 10 minutes instead of an hour-long appointment. So, there you have it – my parting message to you from this illness. It’s an ongoing process, and one that we will never truly finish. But by making a commitment to both yourself and your health, you can come out stronger on the other side. Remember: you are not alone in this battle. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and everything will be okay – I promise!