Letter from Michele

(printed by permission May 2010)

Hello Tony, My name is Michele and I've just finished reading your story and now I'm crying because I remember the mental torment that my mum, dad and family went through when my non hodgkins lymphoma was diagnosed. I was like yourself, outgoing, healthy and living life, then one day I lifted my leg to get on the back of my husbands motorbike and something gave in my groin area, the pain was instant and that night was the start of the fevers and nightly drench's. I went to my GP several times just to be told that I had a trapped nerve in my back. I was taking every painkiller available but they didn't touch the agony I was in.

The last time I visited my GP I couldn't walk unaided and I was in so much pain I realized what people meant when they talked about banging your head off a wall with pain, again he said theres nothing much wrong with me. I went to the hospital and got the same response there. After about four weeks I was in screaming pain and couldn't walk and still the doctors said "oh theres nothing wrong with you" I was so scared and frightened because I knew I was dying I could feel it and it was happening quick. To cut a long story short I was admitted into hospital with something totally unrelated and I decided that I wasn't going anywhere until someone took me seriously and started to find out what was wrong with me.

After a lot of tests and scans a surgeon came to me and said " do you realise how ill you are Michele?" "you have cancer" Even though I already thought that's what I had I went into full panic mode, I was only 38yrs old and I'd been complaining about being 40, now I wasn't even going to see my 40th birthday.

I told my husband, mum and dad and my husband and mum went straight into denial telling me that I haven't been properly diagnosed and that I looked well, my dad however, looked drastic, I didn't see him cry but most of the time he couldn't speak and I could see the despair in his face every day. There was a swelling in my pubic area which I had no idea was there. The surgeon did a biopsy on the lymph node and told me that I should have the results in two weeks time. I spent those two weeks not knowing what type of cancer I had or how far advanced it was and my family were still in denial. I thought that it was just a matter of being diagnosed and then being told how long I had left to live as the pain was now in the other side of my body as well which meant that I already had secondary cancer ( or so I thought at the time).

My dad was visiting every day to look after me while my husband worked and he wouldn't talk about any ill health, he was too frightened I suppose, he's baby was dying and there wasn't a thing he could do about it. Finally I received a call from a Hematologist telling me that I had to get up to the hospital ASAP. She started by telling my husband and I that I had lymphoma and a bone marrow test needed to be done straight away and that they were going to admit me into the hospital as I was in renal failure and my liver was starting to fail as well. By this time I had two Goose eggs in my neck as well as under my armpits, I was entering stage four.

After a couple of days I was transferred to a specialist ward in a different hospital and met some new doctors. By this time I was permantly bleeding from my nose, back passage and the other area below, I was in such a mess and in such pain. Phil, my new hematologist pulled up a chair next to my bed and said "you know Michele, if we can get your kidneys working we can cure you" cure me!!!! I've never heard "cure" and "cancer" used in the same sentence before. All the time I was battling with my cancer I always smiled and made fun of the situation to my family so that they wouldn't know how scared I was and just how bad things were for me, all I cared about was making sure that the people I loved were ok.

I got through my fight with sheer determination and humor, there was no way this cancer was going to take anything more from me that it already had, I wasn't going to allow it. My family tell people that cancer for me was a breeze, it went really well considering...... I'm now 41 and looking forward to celebrating my 42nd birthday very shortly. I'm also looking at the end of my third year in remission at the end of May, another two to go and then I will be cured....How cool is that? I can't wait to have this dark cloud lifted from my mind.

I was diagnosed with non hodgkins lymphoma, T cell, anaplastic, large cell. I don't use capitals when writing non hodgkins lymphoma because I won't allow it to have any importance.

Thank you for reading

Take care and God bless


- shelley1968@ntlworld.com

It is OK to e-mail Michele at the above address.