“They say that you know your body and that's true. From 2009 I knew something was not quite right. I was not particularly tired - in fact I had taken up running half marathons to keep fit! I was not losing weight, but I was experiencing frequent night sweats and various non-specific pains. Doctor after doctor told me it was my age or worse, in my head. One even asked if I really liked myself as they thought I was depressed!
But I kept going back time after time with a new symptom, each time to be told the same story. Eventually in 2010 I was forwarded to a gynaecologist and a CT was performed. The results were fine in terms of my ovaries but I had an enlarged lymph node attached to my bowel and it was recommended that I was referred to a haematologist. It would be several more demands and a further 18 months before I was finally referred.
On 23 December 2011 at 3.30pm aged 46, I was told I had stage 4b follicular lymphoma and would have to start chemotherapy. Furthermore the condition is generally classed as incurable. I was in shock, scared but also numb. He could not possibly be talking about me? Christmas was awful - my son and heavily pregnant daughter as well as my parents were all coming for Christmas Day. I could not face ruining the day so I kept it to myself until after the Christmas holidays and I was forced to tell them.
They have been my strength, as has my first granddaughter Alice born between treatments 1 and 2 of R-CVP. I finished my last treatment in June 2012 and am currently in full remission and on two years Rituximab.
2013 is a new year - I no longer take things for granted and I have started running again. Not quite half marathons, but I will be running the Race for Life and the National Lottery Olympic 5 mile run this year, I know that I am lucky the maintenance I am undergoing is only possible because of research and has only been available for a few years...who knows what can be achieved in the next few years with more research?
Supporting research is just not a charitable gift that could help someone, somewhere. It is an investment in the future for all of us because when it happens we look to medicine to help us, to fix us. New drugs and research mean that more and more people can be helped.
The funny thing is that I still have night sweats....but as my wonderful consultant says..."Wendy, this time it really is your age!"