By Marie, Cancer Hope Network Volunteer since 2001
I was first diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) eighteen years ago at the age of 49. I was initially put on a watch and wait protocol, with quarterly blood tests taken at the hospital I worked for in New York.
After four and a half years, my disease reared its unwelcome head and I became very ill, with symptoms of fatigue, spiking fevers and ultimately several admissions to our local hospital.
Upon further investigation of my medical condition, it was determined that I start a six month treatment of chemotherapy for five days a week with three weeks off between cycles. A port-a-cath was placed under the skin near my clavicle to administer the necessary “cocktail” of drugs. My physical health was so poor, I required a splenectomy and soon began a six month course of treatment, which eventually took nine months to complete!
Shortly after this, we relocated to a new home in Westfield, NJ. At this time I was in remission, and given my good fortune, hoped to pay it forward. I was introduced to Cancer Hope Network through my oncologist, Dr Steven Stanzione, who was one of the founders of this wonderful organization. Through his encouragement I became a volunteer with Cancer Hope Network, and have had the opportunity to help others with the same diagnosis. Since becoming a volunteer, I have spoken with over 100 people with CLL and have helped them to cope with the difficulties of cancer treatment and to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Since beginning my work with CHN, I have had a relapse of the CLL which resulted in an antibody treatment to keep my cancer in check. I have been in remission for over five years. It has been almost twenty years since my initial diagnosis. I am now 67 years old and have been blessed with caring doctors, good medicine, a strong faith, a loving family and circle of dear friends. Being a volunteer for almost eleven years has given me back more than I have given, and I am so grateful to be a part of the Cancer Hope Network. I would strongly encourage others who have faced the challenges of a cancer diagnosis to help others by volunteering. My name is Marie and I am a blessed cancer survivor volunteer!
A cancer diagnosis can have a profound impact on one’s life. Cancer Hope Network is here to give you HOPE! We now count with over 400 support volunteer survivors who speak one-on-one with people recently diagnosed with cancer. If you or someone you love was diagnosed with cancer, call us toll free at 877-467-3638.