Step-by-step: my journey back from cancer

My story begins on October 5, 2016. I was admitted to hospital thinking that I had pneumonia. They put me on several IV antibiotics, but after two weeks with no improvement, they brought me back in for exploratory surgery. Preliminary results showed that I had stage IV, B class, non-Hodgkin lymphoma. My pathology results confirmed the diagnosis on October 16.

After discussions with the oncologist, they suggested two options: chemotherapy or hospice. My next statement was, “Lord, I am not taking this on and giving it to you.” I told them I am going to move forward and not look back.

My chemotherapy was scheduled to start immediately and last for five days. I went home for a week and then went in and discussed my options with the oncologist. They recommended a three-week, six-cycle, process. On Saturday I took my first round of chemotherapy, but by Sunday I was back in the hospital with septic shock. I spent the next four days in ICU dealing with this problem. I had the following week off to regain strength. My chemotherapy started again the next week, on Monday, and finished on Saturday. By the following Thursday I was back in the hospital with a neutropenia infection. I came out of the hospital the following Tuesday and started the whole process again the following Monday. This process continued for five more cycles.

I was very fortunate to get through the rest of my chemotherapy with few problems. I had no pain, no constipation, no vomiting, and no nausea. However, because I was on 24-hour chemotherapy and required a nurse or physical therapist to be with me in order to walk, I was pretty much bedridden and unable to use my legs and hands.

After I got out of the hospital I had occupational and physical therapy within my home. They were able to help me regain some mobility, but with limited time, it was not as effective as I had hoped. I then moved on to outpatient therapy, but since I needed extra support, they recommended I attend an inpatient day program.

I am currently doing five days a week, five hours a day, in therapy. This has helped me immensely and my mobility continues to improve daily. When I first started inpatient therapy, I was unable to climb steps and had to rely on a wheelchair for transportation. After about three weeks in therapy, I graduated from the wheelchair to a walker. After about four weeks, I was able to climb steps.

Step-by-step, it is all about making a little bit of progress each day.

Rick, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor

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Step-by-step: my journey back from cancer was originally published in Livestrong Voices on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.