February 25, 2015
How my cancer journey became my family's cancer journey
BY Jaymee Fiskum
I wasn't the only one diagnosed with anaplastic large T cell lymphoma small cell variant (ALCL) in May 2013. My entire family took on my cancer journey as if it was their own.
Because of them, I consider myself lucky -- as weird as it may sound. I have so much support in my life. It motivated me to fight harder. I couldn't let myself down, but I couldn't let all of them down either.
How my family helped me cope with ALCL
Each one of my family members played a huge part in my cancer journey.
After my doctor told me I had ALCL. In September 2013, I began six cycles of chemotherapy, followed by a stem cell transplant. I was very fortunate enough to have my sister as my donor. Who would've thought letting her borrow my clothes all those years would pay off?
My dad quit his job to be by my side every step of the way. He actually has continued to stick with me during my recovery, too. My mom held the family together financially, keeping her job so we would have the best insurance. My boyfriend, who was about to graduate college, left school to stay with me during my treatment.
My boyfriend's aunt, who lives in Houston, let us stay at her house while I was undergoing ALCL treatment at MD Anderson. And both my family and my boyfriend's family helped with fundraising. Even my family members living in Norway made things to sell so that we would have extra money.
Life after ALCL
I am still in recovery -- and my family and boyfriend are, too. We're all trying to get used to the new normal and adjust to our new lives. My cancer journey didn't just change me. It changed all of us. We're all more grateful for each other. We've all seen what matters most.
I can't stress how important "mind over matter" was for me during my journey. No matter how scared I was, I told myself it would be OK. I ultimately believe this happened to me so that someday I can help others.
Cancer has taught me that you can't always control your life, and that even though you may have a plan, it may not always happen. But the most important thing it's taught me is to cherish the people who love you and love them with all your heart.
TopicsT-Cell Lymphoma Lymphoma
My cancer journey didn't just change me. It changed all of us.