Janna, Mantle Cell Lymphoma Survivor

My journey with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and recovery from a double umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplant helped me clarify my priorities and identify things in my life that provide me with the most positive energy.

I was diagnosed with localized mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) in April 2001. Initially, the doctors chose to treat my lymphoma with Rituxan – allowing me to achieve remission, which I enjoyed for 18 months. Unfortunately, I relapsed, and while my doctors decided to resume Rituxan, by the fall of 2004, my lymphoma had become Rituxan-resistant. The decision was made to start me on chemotherapy regimens including CHOP, ESHAP, and R-ICE in preparation for a double UCB transplant – I would be the first female MCL patient to receive one.  Thankfully, the transplant was successful, and I have been tumor-free since the fall of 2005.

Living with MCL has been challenging at times and I have learned that crisis can be a great catalyst and clarifier. I have also discovered that life can be brighter and more manageable if we have something to look forward to. When I was feeling particularly wretched during my post-transplant recovery, I meditated, listened to great music, and fantasized about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. I remained focused on this, and the dream became a reality in the fall of 2008, when I celebrated my third post-transplant “birthday” on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

I got involved with the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) shortly after my diagnosis when I contacted the LRF helpline. The Helpline staff are extremely helpful and the patient support services that they provide are among the best available.

Try to take things a day at a time as you navigate through treatment. Look for positive distractions to help you through rough patches you encounter along the way and never give up hope.

Presently, I am still cancer-free, feel terrific, and remain hopeful for the future. However, I am ever-mindful that life is both fragile and incredibly short and circumstances can change as quickly as they have in the past. If you are a lymphoma patient like me, here is a final thought: Try to take things a day at a time as you navigate through treatment. Look for positive distractions to help you through rough patches you encounter along the way and never give up hope.