5 things I learned from facing B-cell lymphoma while pregnant

When I was diagnosed with my primary mediastinal large b-cell lymphoma diagnosis in November 2017, I was in the second trimester of my pregnancy. I couldn’t find a lot of advice for pregnant cancer patients, so now I’m doing my part to help others going through a similar experience. Here are five lessons I learned while undergoing cancer treatment during my pregnancy. Accept all of the help you are offered People will probably offer to bring you a meal, babysit, clean your house, mow your lawn, accompany you to the hospital, buy you something. Accept their offers. Don’t have pride and think you can do it all, because you can’t. Don’t think you’re inconveniencing people, because you aren’t. People want to help you. It takes a village to beat cancer! You don’t have to do it alone. The gym I taught fitness classes at and my employer set up meal trains for us. My husband and I received probably over 30 meals in the span of four months. I never had to worry about cooking, and that greatly helped. Count your good days and write off the bad days Every day that you are not nauseous, fatigued, or sick is a good day. If you have a bad day, that’s OK. Chances are you’ll survive the bad day. I got neutropenia just two weeks before I was planning to deliver my son, Joel. I was in the hospital for seven days, away from my family and too weak to work. I had to remind myself that I have had so many good days before, that a week is just...

A Ewing’s sarcoma recurrence won’t stop me from living

I recently completed radiation therapy, but I’m still waiting to find out if it was successful in destroying a tumor that spread to my lung nearly five years after my initial Ewing’s sarcoma treatment. As I wait for my follow-up appointment in August, I’m trying to ignore the what-ifs. I’m 37 years old and a mother of five. That alone helps keep me distracted. But I’m also approaching this summer with a plan. My first Ewing’s sarcoma diagnosis First, let me back up to my initial diagnosis in July 2011. After months of living with pain in my left leg, I went to my doctor’s office begging for an answer. Eventually, an MRI showed a type of cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma in my fibula, or calf bone. At the time, my youngest child was just learning how to walk and my oldest was only 11. I was willing to do anything to get through it. When I asked my local oncologist in Amarillo, Texas what he recommended, he told me that if I were his loved one, he’d send me to MD Anderson for a second opinion. So I left my kids with their father (my husband at the time) and came to Houston. Leaving my family was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but I knew that it would give me the best chance for survival. Under Dr. Robert Benjamin’s care, I started a high-dose chemotherapy and remained on it for five months. Then, in January 2012, Dr. Valerae Lewis performed a radical resection, where she removed the top third of my left fibula during a six-hour surgery....

Oral cancer survivor finds her strength

As a registered nurse, Asha Bhandari was familiar with cancer – even less common cancer types, like oral cancer. But she never believed she’d receive her own diagnosis, even when she first noticed the sore on her lower gum – an oral cancer symptom. Even when that sore started to grow after a few weeks. And even when the oral surgeon took a biopsy and three days later gave her the news that it was cancerous. “I was so devastated,” Asha says, remembering her diagnosis at age 54. “I ate right. I exercised. I didn’t smoke. I was healthy. I didn’t think I fit the profile of a cancer patient.” Asha came to MD Anderson for a second opinion, and met with Randal Weber, M.D. He performed a series of tests, X-rays, blood tests and CT scans. He confirmed the news Asha had refused to believe: she had squamous cell carcinoma of the gum, a type of oral cancer. But he also gave her hope. “I remember it exactly,” she says. “Dr. Weber called me and he said, ‘The good news is, we’re going to cure you.’ To me, that was big.” Now under the care of MD Anderson’s Head and Neck team, Asha gained a growing feeling of ease. She was scared, but she knew her multidisciplinary team would take care of her. Undergoing oral cancer surgery Asha’s oral cancer surgery was scheduled for Sept. 25, 2015 – just a month after her diagnosis. Doctors planned to remove the tumor and see if the cancer had spread to any nearby lymph nodes, but to do this they would need...

Oral cancer survivor finds her strength

As a registered nurse, Asha Bhandari was familiar with cancer – even less common cancer types, like oral cancer. But she never believed she’d receive her own diagnosis, even when she first noticed the sore on her lower gum – an oral cancer symptom. Even when that sore started to grow after a few weeks. And even when the oral surgeon took a biopsy and three days later gave her the news that it was cancerous. “I was so devastated,” Asha says, remembering her diagnosis at age 54. “I ate right. I exercised. I didn’t smoke. I was healthy. I didn’t think I fit the profile of a cancer patient.” Asha came to MD Anderson for a second opinion, and met with Randal Weber, M.D. He performed a series of tests, X-rays, blood tests and CT scans. He confirmed the news Asha had refused to believe: she had squamous cell carcinoma of the gum, a type of oral cancer. But he also gave her hope. “I remember it exactly,” she says. “Dr. Weber called me and he said, ‘The good news is, we’re going to cure, you.’ To me, that was big.” Now under the care of MD Anderson’s Head and Neck team, Asha gained a growing feeling of ease. She was scared, but she knew her multidisciplinary team would take care of her. Undergoing oral cancer surgery Asha’s oral cancer surgery was scheduled for Sept. 25, 2015 – just a month after her diagnosis. Doctors planned to remove the tumor and see if the cancer had spread to any nearby lymph nodes, but to do this they would need...