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Lymphoma and Pets
Fairytale, Interrupted: Lisa’s Love Story Shaken by Cancer
This two-part article was written exclusively for LymphomaInfo.net by Lisa Lafferty McGill. Lisa was leading a healthy and active lifestyle until she was diagnosed with stage IV mediastinal B-Cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late 2012. This is her story.
My fairytale was just beginning. Again.
In 2004, I lost my first husband to brain cancer one month after he was diagnosed. Our daughters were 3 years and 10 months old. I spent the next seven years working to ensure my daughters had the best childhood, even though the very worst thing had happened. I was determined to show them that life IS good and to thank God for the tiniest thing that brings joy to each day, for that is true happiness.
A few years later, I tracked down a man named Fred on Facebook. Fred and I first met in kindergarten but lost touch when he moved in the fourth grade. By June, we were engaged, and by August, we were married. Two years of friendship led to a whirlwind romance and a deep, affectionate love for each other. Fred was exactly what I wanted for both me and the girls; a genuine, honest, kind, sweet man who would complete us. Finally, our family was whole once again.
An Unexpected Turn of Events
In 2012, I made a New Year’s resolution to run 720 miles. At 41, the goal was to drop 10 pounds and build muscle. Throughout the year, I ran at least 15 miles a week and ran virtual races for charity, rewarding myself with shiny medals for my efforts. I ate properly, counted every calorie, and was rewarded with a whopping three-pound weight loss! I hoped I was at least building muscle! I was so fortunate not to be sick the entire year and completed my running goal on Nov. 14.
Overachiever that I am, I decided to keep running and ran until I contracted bronchitis, something I battle every year. This time, however, the coughing would not go away. I also developed pain in both my back and my side. By New Year’s Eve, the pain was keeping me from sleeping, so I made an appointment to see my doctor. He thought it was just stress and prescribed an antidepressant. He did not seem concerned but ordered a CT scan anyway. The scan revealed a large tumor, 7" long by 3" wide. The tumor was pressing on the nerves in my spinal cord, causing stiffness and numbness in my legs and, eventually, inability to walk. The diagnosis: stage IV mediastinal B-Cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
I was devastated. Thoughts of my girls kept running through my brain: How am I going to tell them? Will I be all right? Will I live? What if I don't? Will they be okay? I thought, This cannot be happening. I JUST got married. I was ready to fulfill my fairytale and live happily ever after. I deserved that fairytale! I had been through hell and back and kept positive throughout most of the journey.