Adrienne Schladerer of Aspen is an eight-year survivor of mantle cell lymphoma. A self-described "thriver," she has an MBA in marketing, speaks three languages and is an avid skier and cyclist.
I'm living proof of the importance of being your own advocate, making informed health decisions and knowing your options and seeking treatment at MD Anderson, which has the world's largest clinical trials program.
I moved to Aspen in 2005 after living in Europe for 30 years. I was working 50 hours a week as a hotel events manager - and skiing five days a week. In 2009, after a routine colonoscopy, I learned I had stage IV mantle cell lymphoma, a very aggressive and until recently, deadly type of cancer. I had no symptoms whatsoever.
I didn't want to leave Aspen, as I had a dog, a life and a job. The University of Colorado was using the same protocol as MD Anderson, so I decided to have cancer treatment in Denver. It was a brutal nine months, with chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant.
I lost 25 pounds from my present weight of 115 pounds. I returned to Aspen in September after the stem cell transplant and worked out daily. It took a year to get my strength and weight back to normal, but I did ski two months after returning on Thanksgiving, the opening day of the season.
Three and a half years later, a routine check-up in Denver showed that I had relapsed.
After much discussion with my medical team about an action plan of chemotherapy and possibly another stem cell transplant, I decided I was done with this regime. It stole my "life style." I went online and searched for other options. MD Anderson had an ibrutinib clinical trial for mantle cell lymphoma, and my internist in Aspen agreed it was worth a shot - after all, MD Anderson is the best cancer treatment center in the world. What attracted me to ibrutinib besides its effectiveness was that its side effects were nothing compared ot what I had experienced. My goal was not just to stay alive, but also to maintain my active lifestyle. Quality of life is my priority!
Dr. Michael Wang accepted me in his study. I take three pills a day. It's like taking vitamins - no chemotherapy pill side effects. I'm one of the longest patients on this trial. There's no cure for mantle cell lymphoma, but I'm in remission for almost five years now. It's like I was never sick.
I have my active life back, thanks to being physically fit, having a positive attitude and the groundbreaking medical attention I receive at MD Anderson from Dr. Wang and his team.
I'm happy and health, a "thriver" who is not simply surviving cancer but living life to the fullest.
I am Making Cancer History.
Promise invites cancer survivors to share their reflections. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.