Lisa L
Posted by

Our Stories - Lisa Larkin

Lisa L
Posted by
01 Aug 2013

I was diagnosed with aggressive Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma on 8th April 2011.  It was a day that I will never forget.   

I had visited my GP 2 days earlier as I had noticed lumps in my neck and was feeling very hot at night.  I couldn’t say I felt poorly, just not myself.   My GP took blood tests and within a few hours I was admitted to hospital for an immediate blood transfusion and bone marrow biopsy. Initially I was diagnosed with ALL. I was told that my cancer was very aggressive and that I would need to start treatment immediately.  Gosh - I was 40, a wife and a mother of 2 fantastic children; I could not take it in.  I had no idea in those early days where I got the strength from but I remained positive and said “right let’s get cracking”.   I was suddenly surrounded by family, friends and colleagues all wishing me well.  I remember thinking I had better get well with everyone willing me on.

 


I started my Chemotherapy on 18th April 2011. My consultant explained that my diagnosis was not very straight forward; it seemed that I had Follicular Lymphoma which had become very aggressive.  My treatment was changed to R-CHOP and intrathecal chemotherapy. My hair fell out really quite quickly, but in my mind if my hair fell out something was working.  Silly but I was quite pleased.   By September 2011 I was in remission, “Team Larks” were all overjoyed.  Now for one more hurdle, my stem cell transplant.

My stem cell transplant was carried out on 11th November 2011 (11/11/11), a date I will never forget.  After a few more slightly nastier infections, I was discharged from hospital on 2nd December.  I felt very lucky and blessed that my counts were slowly increasing.  I knew the roller coaster that I had been on for almost 8 months was slowing down.
  
Since then I have had some ups and downs and a few more admissions but I’m still in remission. I’m undergoing maintenance treatment which is due to end this year.

 

My family & friends have raised awareness and funds to help support Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.  My son and husband ran the Great North Run in September 2012 and my daughter Rosie also took part in the Race for Life in June.

My cancer journey was hard but at the same time I believe a lot of good things have happened as a result of it.  My outlook on life has changed, I treasure every day with my nearest and dearest.  I have given up work and plan to volunteer delivering HOPE courses with Macmillan.  I really do feel I have been given a 2nd chance of life and I intend to enjoy it!

I will continue to raise awareness and funds for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and believe one day everyone will have a cure.  My advice to anyone would be to stay strong and surround yourself with the people you cherish ♥

 

Comments

Anonymous
06.08.2013

Hi Lisa. I'm so moved by you're story, and happy that you are on the mend. It is amazing that you have remained so strong and positive through the gruelling treatment regime. My son Mark got Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in early 2005. All he had was a hacking cough and sore throat that wouldn't go away, despite courses of antibiotics. Eventually, he was diagnosed with Agressive B Cell lymphoma. Our world fell apart. He was only 20 years old. The treatment had to start immediately, and was given R CHOP, in 3 week cycles. After about 4 infusions of the chemo drugs, his doctors realised it had stopped working and the tumours ( in his neck, behind his breastbone, and his spleen) were growing again. At this stage, his spinal fluid and bone marrow were still clear of cancer cells, so he had a stem cell harvest done. They said his stem cells were so good, they may well be the beating of the cancer. He then was given BEAM chemo, which was horrendous. He was also getting Retuximab (mono clonal antiboby) continuously. The BEAM totally destroyed his immune system, by killing all the white blood cells. He then got the stem cell transplant and after a while after various transfusions, his counts began to improve to a level where he could come home. It was now end of Oct, about 8 months from diagnosis. He continued to improve for a while, but a scan in Feb the following year showed he was not yet in remission. Soon after, he started to go downhill again and he dad intensive radiation every day for 3 weeks. They were limited to the amount he could have as there was a danger it would damage his heart. This did not work, and the lymphoma had returned even more aggressive than at the start. It eventually appeared in his lungs and kidneys and he started getting headaches,it was suspected it was also getting into his brain. His Doctors told us it was running out of control and couldn't be stopped. Sadly he died 3 weeks later surrounded by his loved ones. I'm sorry to be telling our story with a sad ending Lisa, and I'm truly happy your story has a happy ending. You have been blessed and given a second chance. Live life to the full and cherish every moment. Spread love and happiness all around you. You are one amazing lady, and I wish you and your loved ones, luck in all you do. When I eventually recovered from the initial grief of losing Mark, I along with my daughter, managed to raise almost £20,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, through 2 London Marathons and various other events. I hope that eventually, a cure will be found, and other family's can be spared the anguish we suffered. I really really do hope so. God bless you Lisa.

Anonymous
06.08.2013

What an inspiration Lisa, you have always demonstrated a positive attitude and been clearly loved and supported by your many many friends and family. I have always been proud to be on the Antony Nolan Bone Marrow register, and seeing you and knowing others who have benefited from their work confirms it was a positive thing to do. I actively try to recruit people to Antony Nolan. Wishing you and your family all the love and happiness in the world, you all deserve it!!!! :0) xx

Anonymous
07.08.2013

Thank you for your comments, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your Son Mark, it is such a cruel disease. I tried to keep my story positive, but like Mark, it was such a tough journey, and at times I was very poorly. Hospital was like my 2nd home. Again, like Mark, I had had a cough for months, and I think it could of been many more months before I was diagnosed if I hadn't of gone to the GP that day. Fighting this disease is so difficult, and trying to keep as positive is really not an easy things to do. I do believe that finding a cure is possible, and I bang on about this to everyone and anyone who will listen. How fantastic you have raised so much money, and completing the London Marathon - wow, my husband ran the marathon several years ago, and said it was one of the hardest things he has done. I am back in hospital tomorrow for rituximab, I have this every 8 weeks, and I still feel scared when getting my bloods taken, I doubt it will ever change. Thank you for sharing your story about Mark, god bless you all, and keep you well x