The same month Sue left a career as a journalist after three decades, one glowing hot spot on a dark mammogram display screen changed her life.
Slow-growing, follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Lymphoma" is a general term for a group of cancers that originate in the lymphatic system. A type of white blood cell goes rogue, multiplies and starts crowding out healthy cells and creating tumors.
The diagnostic phase spanned two months, from mid-November, 2009, until late January, 2010. It was the most difficult because it was shrouded in uncertainty. The possibilities included a more aggressive form of the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma family of cancers, (the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society counts more than 80 varieties), vs. a slow-growing, less immediately threatening version. Neither was on her Christmas list.
She knew she wanted to stay home in West Michigan near her support network during treatment.
In sorting through treatment options, she decided on what she considered the most aggressive path: A national clinical trial offered locally through the Grand Rapids Clinical Oncology Program. In addition to standard 6 rounds of chemotherapy, her trial included a nuclear medicine component as part of initial treatment.
Although scans now show the cancer is in complete remission, it doesn’t mean there’s no cancer in her body: Maintenance drugs will serve as sentries in the coming months and years.
"Cancer patients must have hope, and clinical trials offer many of us hope ni a time of great stress and anxiety"
"For me, taking part in a clinical trial was a carefully considered leap of faith which offered the standard of care plus a powerful treatment option, generally unavailable, as part of frontline treatment. It's also a way to make a difference in future treatment options for those yet undiagnosed"
Today, Sue's cancer is in complete remission and she is convinced it is because of her clinical trial.
As a free-lance writer and editor, her weekly Living with Cancer column appears in The Grand Rapids Press and its online affiliate, Mlive.com. Through patient stories, hers and others, she explores the uncharted territory of living with cancer.
"As I approach 1 year A.D (After Diagnosis), I wonder what life will look like next year, but I don't wast time wondering long. I'm focused on living now - I'll miss too much choosing any other path."
Today, Sue is busy writing, strengthening her French, weaning herself from Google Translate, and re-entering the world of travel - enjoying even dirty airplane windows flooded with sun and fantasizing about long stays in Europe.
An index of her column is available at : http://connect.mlive.com/user/sschroder/index.html
Is there a clinical trial right for you?
Cancer clinical trials are research studies for developing better ways of detecting, treating, and eventually preventing cancer.
Clinical trials are not risk free. Everyone needs to explore the options that are best for their individuals needs. Talk to your physician regarding cancer clinical trials right here in west michigan. Read more on clinical trials.