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Denise, Hannah, Emma and Sophia...then and now!

My name is Denise Beaudoin. I am 48 years young and I have Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma! Sounds like an AA declaration but it is true and I am proud and thankful for my journey with cancer and all the struggles and triumphs that came with it.

The journey began on October 8, 2009. I had a “quick” appointment with my doctor to check a bump on my neck (which had been previously diagnosed in North Carolina as a a cyst). My doctor was running late so when she entered the room I said “Look Joann I have about 5 minutes before I need to pick up my daughter at kindergarten so check the cyst and tell me who I can go to and have it removed”. She laughed and proceeded to check my neck...then my armpit...then my stomach....then my groins. What was she doing?! Within two minutes she bravely looked me in the eye and said “Denise, you have swollen lymph nodes all over your body. There are a few things that it could be but I have a suspicion that it is Lymphoma.” I have heard stories before when people try to explain the feeling of blood draining from your body. I understand this feeling now. I remember looking at Joann like a deer in the headlights and saying “I can’t die...I have 3 young children at home...they need me!” Needless to say, from there it was tests, scans, doctors appointments, bone marrow biopsies, 2 lymph node biopsies, more scans and doctors appointments until we finally had the diagnosis of Non-Hodgkins B cell Follicular Lymphoma. Wow! That’s a mouthful.

My treatment plan consisted of 8 rounds of chemotherapy in 6 months. Was it awful...sometimes. I think at my worst I told my husband that my eyelashes hurt when I blinked. Truth be told, the emotional toll on my body and my family and friends seemed much worse. More than I could almost handle at times. Through it all, my support system (family, friends, nurses, doctors, community) held me up and helped me to get through it. We are only as strong as the people who surround us and trust me, my peeps are the best!

It has been 4 years since my original diagnosis. I am thankful for my time in remission. I am able to see “things” more clearly. What things? I’m not sure....just everything. No blessing is too small.
I was rediagnosed with NHL 2 months ago through a CT scan that was done to check for a kidney stone. It is a small tumor and will be treated this time with low dose radiation and maintenance Rituxan. I will not loose my hair or suffer any of the side effects of traditional chemotherapy.
I was told once that you will never again hear for the first time that you have cancer. It is true that the second time is easier but when you get stung by a bee the second time in your life maybe it doesn’t surprise you as much but the sting still last for a while. That’s where I’m at right now...dealing with the sting.

So....time to pull myself up by the bootstraps and MOVE ON. Cancer doesn’t define me. I define me. What can I do to fight this disease. Stay healthy, eat right, exercise, say my prayers...yes, all of this is important but what else? Well, since I’m not a scientist (at all) I guess I need to help those who can find a cure to do just that! Every time I speak with my oncologist, Dr. Eric Jacobsen, I feel more hope, more confidence in the future. The field of hematology oncology has changed so significantly in the last 15 years. So much so that if I were diagnosed for the first time today (4 years later), my treatment plan would be totally different! Crazy right? By the end of 2013, the FDA will be approving one more drug for use against NHL and by end of 2014, the FDA should be approving yet another drug that is supposed to be a big game changer. The other exciting thing is that these drugs, although designed for blood cancers, are showing promise in other cancer arenas as well. It is truly an exciting time to have Lymphoma! (yeah right).

The need for research money is great. The government has no money (as we know) and the only way to find a cure is to fund one. The cost to develop and test these new therapy’s is enormous. We’ve come so far already and I am excited and yes hopeful that one of the drugs in a laboratory right now will hold the key to my and many others long and healthy futures.

They say it takes a do almost anything really. I believe that I am living in and surrounded by people of a magnanimous village (that was the biggest word I could come up with) and that together we can find a cure and give me, my family and many others like us, hope for all of our tomorrows.

I LOVE YOU ALL and thanks as always for your support!
Stay tuned for the 2013-2014 fundraising

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