St. Albert AB
I am an APL survivor
I am an APL survivor, diagnosed December 2016
The biggest challenge in my blood cancer experience has been dealing with the side effects - I had really bad neuropathy. I would have anxiety attacks when my fingers and feet went numb, wondering if I would ever be able to feel them again. Then I got counselling and that helped. To this day, I still have some numbness in my feet, and I accept these as the battle wounds received while fighting for my life. Another challenge that I had was feeling that I was putting my family through a lot; I felt like I was causing them to worry, and I didn't want them to worry.
My life hasn't really changed that much now that I have recovered. The further I get away from the treatments, there is less worry that it's coming back. My family really helped make life normal, even during treatment. Just after treatment, I thought, "I almost died," so I bought a new car and then I got a new job! My life was pretty good before I became sick, so I didn't want to change too much otherwise. If anything, I've become more understanding of other people when they are going through health crises including mental health.
A family friend's 3-year-old son had leukemia, so I started walking with Light The Night in 2011. When I was diagnosed in late 2016, my lantern changed from red to white.
WHY I CONTINUE TO SUPPORT LIGHT THE NIGHT: Because research works! I am living proof of it. Mine was a pretty new protocol; it was only being used in Edmonton 5 years before I was diagnosed. 20 years ago, I wouldn't have had a hope with this diagnosis. APL can come on very quickly and it is quite rare - in the hospital where I was treated, they told me they typically treat 1 person / year with this disease. There is something special about congregating with all the survivors and all the people who are still in active treatment. Picking them out in the crowd (the white lanterns) and standing with them at the stage - that is very empowering.
I feel that Canadians should support the blood cancer community through Light The Night because every dollar matters! I love the slogan: "Beating cancer is in our blood." It's also important to participate, because it feels like for every white lantern, there are 20 red ones. The first walk we went to was in Victoria Park with about 200 walkers. To see how it is has grown at Hawrelak Park to almost 1,000 walkers is amazing!